London | United Kingdom
With Royal Ascot just around the bend, the whole of the country is gearing up for the annual racing spectacular that is as British an institution as an afternoon cup of tea. This year the races will take place from 19 June to 23 June 2018. Although racing fans, the social set, fashionistas and sports lovers will be watching and attending the races, Saturday – 23 June 2018 is the day that everyone favours as it is when the winner is presented with the Gold Cup Royal Ascot.
During the trophy ceremony, the a moment that is as much anticipated as the races, Her Majesty the Queen personally presents the Gold Cup Royal Ascot to the winner which further underscores the importance of the race. As each winner has the privilege of keeping the trophy permanently, each year a new one has to be made. This task falls to the Royal Jeweller Garrard.
The history of this appointment stretches back to 1842 when Garrard made the very first Gold Cup Royal Ascot. Beyond the coveted prize, the luxury jeweller further is in charge of creating the Queen’s Vase as well as the Royal Hunt Cup, all of who’s designs need to be approved by the reigning monarch.
Perhaps most famous as the designers of Princes Diana’s engagement ring, the luxury jewellers’ relationship with the British Royal Family started long before they were appointed. Before this time, the House had a regular support from various royal patrons in the form of tureens, wine coolers, inkstands and coffee pots. Garrard had a reputation as the foremost silversmith working under the sign of the Kings Arms on Haymarket. The request to design and produce the first Gold Cup Royal Ascot came a year before the House was appointed as the Crown Jeweller.
The first cup’s design mainly featured the Battle of Crécy with the banner to the King of Bohemia’s banner laid at the feet of the victor, the Black Prince. In a feature, the Illustrated London News wrote:
“The contrast between the golden ornaments and weapons, the burnished silver which imitates the plate armour and the frosted silver forming the chain mail produce a remarkably fine effect.”
Over the years, the trophies became more classical, elegant and smaller. This change predominantly came in the early 20th century and has dominated the design until today.
Images Courtesy of Garrard