The British Government Is Fighting to Save Queen Victoria's Wedding Tiara
And the clock is ticking!
A piece of British history is in danger of being sold to a foreign buyer—and the deadline to save it is by the end of 2016.
Queen Victoria's coronet designed for her by husband Prince Albert, has been bidded on by a non-U.K. resident so the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest, administered by the Arts Council, has delayed the sale until December 27.
Matt Hancock is the man responsible for imposing the temporary ban and told the BBC he hopes it will keep Queen Victoria's tiara in the country. If local buyers don't match the current offer—£5 million or about $6.5 million—the historical item will be shipped out.
"[It is] one of the most iconic jewels from a pivotal period in our history and symbolizes one of our nation's most famous love stories," Hancock said in a statement. "I hope that we are able to keep the coronet in the U.K. and on display for the public to enjoy for years to come."
Prince Albert designed the piece—with 11 kite and cushion-shaped sapphires set in gold and surrounded by diamonds set in silver—to match the brooch he'd gifted Queen Victoria with the day before their wedding in 1840. Victoria wore the coronet for her portrait in 1842.
The tiara was inherited by George V, who gave it to his daughter Princess Mary ahead of her marriage to Viscount Lascelles in 1922. It was sold to a London dealer soon after being on exhibition in 1997 after remaining in the family for decades. The London dealer has now sold the piece to an unknown buyer who has applied for a license to export it.
"It evokes vividly the shared romantic taste of the time, and its form has become familiar through many reproductions," committee member Philippa Glanville told the BBC. "Its departure would be a great loss, given its beauty, its associations, and its history."