Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has featured prominently on Canadian coins since her coronation in 1953. The obverse, or front, of each coin bears a portrait of the Queen, also referred to as an effigy. Throughout the years of her reign, the effigies have been updated periodically to reflect her maturity and life experience.
This year marks Queen Elizabeth’s 95th birthday. In honour of the occasion, the Royal Canadian Mint has designed a commemorative coin that features one of her most famous and recognizable pieces of jewellery and bears witness to the poise and strength that she has always exhibited throughout her long life and monarchy.
Reverse: The Lovers’ Knot Tiara
Created in 1914, the Lover’s Knot Tiara originally belonged to Her Majesty’s grandmother, Queen Mary. When Queen Mary died in 1953, Her Majesty inherited the tiara from her. Queen Mary’s Lover’s Knot Tiara was actually based on another, earlier tiara called the Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara, which was worn by her grandmother, Princess Augusta, Duchess of Cambridge.
Queen Mary commissioned the House of Garrard to make the Lover’s Knot Tiara with jewels that had come from another piece, called the Ladies of England Tiara. The Lover’s Knot Tiara is recognizable for the lover’s knot pattern, a popular motif in the 19th century, decorated in diamonds, as well as the suspended pearls. These are represented on the reverse of the coin with sculpted elements in the lover’s knot pattern, Swarovski® crystals, and mother-of-pearl elements.
While Queen Mary’s Lover’s Knot Tiara (as the Royal Family reportedly refers to it) belongs to Her Majesty and is one of the most famous in the world, it is not because Queen Elizabeth herself has worn it often. Though Her Majesty wore it a few times in the 1950s, she ultimately favoured the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara. The Lover’s Knot Tiara is famous because Her Majesty may have loaned it to her daughter-in-law, Diana, Princess of Wales, for the occasion of her wedding (though she did not wear it then), and Diana wore it frequently when making public appearances. In the last six years, it has made a reappearance as Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, the wife of Diana’s son Prince William, has frequently worn it in public. Thus, the Lover’s Knot Tiara connects Her Majesty with members of her family.
Queen Mary’s Lover’s Knot Tiara is distinguishable from its predecessor, the Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara, in that the latter includes upright pearls on the diamond arches, mirroring the suspended pearls of today’s piece. Originally, Queen Mary had the upright pearls on her version of the Lover’s Knot Tiara as well, but later decided to have them removed. As a result, Queen Mary’s Lover’s Knot Tiara has more of an understated elegance that sets it apart from its predecessor.
Obverse: Her Majesty’s Effigies
Throughout her reign, four effigies of Queen Elizabeth have appeared on Canadian coins. In honour of Her Majesty’s 95th birthday, the Lover’s Knot Tiara coin features all four. Clockwise from the top, they are:
- Susanna Blunt’s “uncrowned” effigy (2003-present)
- Dora de Pédery-Hunt’s “diadem” effigy (1990-2002)
- Arnold Machin’s “tiara” effigy (1965-1989)
- Mary Gillick’s “laureate” effigy (1953-1964)
Note that the tiara Her Majesty wears in Arnold Machin’s effigy is not the Lover’s Knot tiara but the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara. This tiara was a wedding gift to Queen Elizabeth from her grandmother, Queen Mary, which might account for the sentimental attachment Her Majesty appears to have shown for it ever since. Since Queen Mary is also the one who commissioned the Lover’s Knot tiara, that is another connection between Her Majesty and other members of the Royal Family to which the commemorative coin pays tribute.
The HRM Queen Elizabeth II’s Lover’s Knot Tiara Fine Silver Coin would make a splendid addition to any collection of Canadian coins, as well as a great gift for anyone who enjoys collecting memorabilia about the Royal Family. Shop for this and other collectible coins from the Royal Canadian Mint at Colonial Acres.