Fact or fiction? The truth about Prince Charles' jewelry gifts on 'The Crown'

Gloria Fung, South China Morning Post

Posted at Nov 24 2020 01:26 PM

Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s marriage – and all its trials and tribulations – is one of the core plot lines of season four of Netflix’s hit show The Crown, as those who have been bingeing it will know. And with the prince’s courtship of his spouse and mistress come gifts of jewellery, of course. Whether it’s the bracelet Charles gave Camilla Parker-Bowles as a “farewell gift” or the signet ring Diana received, these jewellery-focused scenes in the show raised as many questions as they did eyebrows. So what do we actually know about these famed bits of bling?

What was the deal with Camilla’s bracelet?

Did Prince Charles commission and give Parker-Bowles a bracelet days before marrying Diana? That’s what we’re led to believe according to episode three.

The gift marked a doomed beginning for Charles and Diana’s marriage. In the show, it was revealed Camilla, played by actress Emerald Fennell, received a bracelet engraved with the initials FG, which stood for Charles and Camilla’s nicknames Fred and Gladys. Actress Emma Corrin portrayed Diana to have reacted badly when she found out about the gift from her soon-to-be husband, played by Josh O’Connor.

According to Penny Junor, a British journalist and biographer who covers the royal beat, the bracelet was in fact inscribed with the letters GF. Junor revealed to website HistoryExtra that Charles prepared parting gifts for a number of women he courted ahead of his wedding to Diana, not just Camilla. The gesture was a thank you to the women for their companionship.

Another theory, proposed by American historian and royal author Sally Bedell Smith, who penned the book Charles: The Misunderstood Prince, suggests the initials GF stands for “Girl Friday”, another nickname Charles had for Camilla.

Did Diana ever wear her signet ring?

It’s been well documented that Princess Diana received a sapphire from Prince Charles marking their engagement, but The Crown also suggests the prince might have given Diana another ring that holds equal, if not greater, significance to the royal family.

After the confrontation over the bracelet, Charles confirms his affection for Diana and presents her with a gold signet, a ring that bears the crest of the Prince of Wales.

A signet is a gentlemen’s ring that most deem to hold greater value than a wedding band. It carries the family emblem and has historically been used as a seal for documents. Today, however, it’s mostly worn more as a status symbol and a badge of honour.

In reality, the ring was previously worn by King Edward VIII when he was Prince of Wales. Prince Charles has been wearing it on the little finger of his left hand for well over four decades, and is rarely seen without it in public.

The dramatised series seems to suggest that Charles had a version of the ring – which according to royal historians is well over 175 years old – made for the princess.

A look at photo archives reveals that the princess had in fact worn a version of this ring. However, she has only been seen wearing the ring on her little finger next to her sapphire engagement ring on rare occasions. Few photos of her show her wearing the signet.