November 16, 2009 / 5:57 PM / 9 years ago

British royal heirlooms up for sale

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Royal heirlooms including a picnic set and a portrait painted by Queen Victoria go on sale at Christie’s in London on Friday and are expected to fetch around one million pounds ($1.7 million).

The auction of around 200 lots is from the collection of Prince George, Duke of Kent and a son of King George V, and his wife Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, being offered by surviving members of their families.

The couple married in 1934, and eight years later Prince George was killed when his plane crashed into a mountain in Scotland while he was serving for the RAF.

His wife found herself needing to raise funds, and in 1947 Christie’s held a three-day auction of the prince’s property which raised 92,300 pounds and generated considerable public interest at the time.

The couple had three children — Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, Princess Alexandra and Prince Michael.

Christie’s will be hoping it can replicate the success of another royal auction in 2006, when its sale of works from the collection of Princess Margaret fetched 13.7 million pounds.

“People like the mystique of the royal family,” said Edward Clive, director of Christie’s. “Provenance is clearly important, and you can’t get a better provenance than a royal family.”

Items on display at Christie’s headquarters in London range from a set of teaspoons valued at 100-200 pounds to a pair of French emerald and enamel ear clips by Cartier estimated to fetch 50,000-60,000 pounds.

In between is a chromium-plated picnic set belonging to King George V containing a thermos-flask, sandwich box and two teacups among other items and which doubled as a footrest.

One highlight is a portrait by Queen Victoria of her daughter Princess Louise as a young girl which she copied from a painting by Franz Xavier Winterhalter. The 1851 work is expected to sell for 10,000-15,000 pounds.

Louise appears again at the auction in the form of a 1915 portrait by Philip Alexius de Laszlo, and a bronze model of Queen Victoria, cast from a life-size marble statue based on a design by Princess Louise, is also on sale.

The auction includes photograph albums of the Russian imperial family that contain informal pictures of the last Czar, Nicholas II, playing tennis and at a hunt.

Princess Marina, the last foreign-born princess to marry into the British royal family, was the daughter of Grand Duchess Helen Vladimirovna of Russia.

Reporting by Mike Collett-White; editing by Patricia Reaney

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