Maria Fitzherbert locket miniature to sell at Christie’s

A diamond studded locket commissioned by Prince George IV for his secret wife Maria Fitzherbert is offered at Christie’s on July 6.

It’s valued at £80,000-120,000 ($101,947-152,921).

In 1784, the prince met Fitzherbert at the opera.

Prince George locket

Prince George commissioned a pair of miniatures for himself and wife Maria Fitzherbert

He became utterly obsessed with her and proposed soon after. 

The couple were married in a clandestine ceremony in 1785, which was necessary as otherwise he would have needed permission from both his father, King George III, and parliament. 

As she was a twice-widowed Catholic, this would never have been allowed. 

As George was next in line to the throne, the lack of royal and parliamentary consent meant the marriage was invalid. A few months after the ceremony, the prince’s creditors began to pressure him.

The privy council indicated that the crown would pay off his substantial debts if he was to marry his cousin, Princess Caroline of Brunswick.

Reluctantly George agreed.

This second marriage was entered into purely out of convenience. It produced an heir and George was once again free to live happily in sin with Maria Fitzherbert.

While their relationship fizzled out in 1811, on his deathbed in 1830 George requested to be buried with a locket containing a portrait of Maria.

This example in the sale, featuring a picture of George by miniature artist Richard Cosway, is believed to be its companion piece.

After Maria’s death, she left the locket to her adopted daughter Minnie Seymour.

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