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photograph of current display in the Grand Vestibule

A display highlighting the interaction between the monarchy and the wider world

India

Emerald girdle of Maharaja Sher Singh c. 1840

RCIN 11291

Grand Vestibule, Windsor Castle

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This dazzling girdle was made for Sher Singh (d. 1843) using emeralds that had belonged to his father, Runjit Singh, ‘Lion of the Punjab’. It formed part of the Lahore Treasury, which was dismantled by the East India Company in 1849. The Company displayed the girdle at the Great Exhibition of 1851. When Queen Victoria visited the exhibition she was struck by the ‘jewels & ornaments from Lahore, [which] are quite magnificent, - such pearls, - & a whole girdle of emeralds’. To mark the queen’s patronage of the exhibition, the Directors of the Company later presented her with a magnificent selection of stones, including this girdle, which bears 19 emeralds, as well as diamonds set in the borders. The emeralds likely came from the Urals or from the Afghan/Kashmir region.