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photograph of current display in the Grand Vestibule

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

Saudi Arabian

Sabre and scabbard c.1940-43

RCIN 62516

Grand Vestibule, Windsor Castle

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The sumptuous gold fittings on this shamshir (sabre) are set with diamonds. A locket in the form of a diamond cartouche is set with the national arms of Saudi Arabia: a palm tree over crossed shamshirs. At the tip of the scabbard is a diamond-set Tree of Life.

The sabre and scabbard were a gift to King George VI from the King of Saudi Arabia, Abd Al'Aziz. They were presented at Buckingham Palace by the king's sons, Amir Faisal and Amir Khalid, who came to London in November 1943 after a month-long visit to the United States of America. The princes also brought ‘a beautiful Arab sword with heavily jewelled hilt and a gold scabbard’ for the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill.

The princes took the opportunity to undertake discussions about international relations in the Middle East. In 1927, the British had signed the Treaty of Jiddah, acknowledging Saudi sovereignty over the Hejaz and Najd regions, in return for assurances that the new Saudi kingdom would not threaten nearby British protectorates. The treaty was renewed on 3 October 1943, but the future of the region remained uncertain in the context of the Second World War.