The UK culture minister Matt Hancock has imposed a temporary export ban on Queen Victoria's multi-million pound wedding coronet to prevent the iconic piece from being sold overseas.

The sapphire and diamond coronet was designed by Prince Albert

The 11.5-cm diamond and sapphire coronet is among the most significant jewels from Queen Victoria's era. The jewel—symbolising one of the most famous love stories in the UK—features 11 sapphires set in gold, and several diamonds set in silver. The coronet was designed by Queen Victoria's beloved husband Prince Albert for their wedding in 1840.

This piece of jewellery cost just £415 at that time. Prince Albert also gifted the Queen a sapphire and diamond brooch a day before their wedding. Both the brooch and the coronet featured in a famous official portrait of Queen Victoria, created by Franz Xaver Winterhalter in 1842.

Temporary export ban on coronet

Following Albert's death in 1861, the Queen wore the coronet in 1866 at the state opening of the British Parliament. In 1922, when Princess Mary was married to Viscount Lascelles, the coronet was gifted to the newly-wed couple by Queen Mary and King George V. After some years, the jewel found its way to a dealer in London. Recently, an overseas buyer made a £5 million offer to buy the piece and also applied for an export licence.

Following his application, the Reviewing Committee on Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA) recommended imposition of a temporary export ban on coronet because of its huge significance and its close connection the history and national life of the UK.

Finding an alternate UK buyer

To stop the sale of this iconic piece of jewellery to a foreign buyer, it is highly essential now that an alternate UK buyer is found who is willing to pay £5 million plus £1 million VAT for the coronet and is also committed to keep the jewel in the country.

The ban expires in December this year, although it can be extended further until June 27 next year, provided a British buyer appears with serious intent to raise the funds and save the coronet for the nation.