303
303

FORMERLY IN THE COLLECTION OF PRINCESS CERIL BIRABONGSE OF SIAM

Diamond bracelet, 1870s
Estimate
10,00015,000
LOT SOLD. 12,500 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
303

FORMERLY IN THE COLLECTION OF PRINCESS CERIL BIRABONGSE OF SIAM

Diamond bracelet, 1870s
Estimate
10,00015,000
LOT SOLD. 12,500 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Fine Jewels

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Diamond bracelet, 1870s
Designed as a series of tapered geometric links set with circular-cut and rose diamonds, length approximately 180mm, one rose diamond deficient.
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Catalogue Note

Ceril first met Bira in 1933 at the age of 17 when he was 20, three weeks later he asked her to marry him and thus began the story of Bira, Prince of Siam, grandson of King Monghut, immortalized by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein in the 1951 musical “The King and I”, and the young Englishwoman who was to become Princess Ceril Birabongse. Educated at Eton and Cambridge Bira later enrolled at Mr Wheeler’s Studio in Tregunter Road, Chelsea and was to later exhibit his work at the Royal Academy. Joining his cousin Chula, they were to join the 1930s racing circuit with a fleet of racing cars painted “Bira Blue”, emblazoned with Bira’s white mouse mascot. Racing in Britiain, Ireland, The Isle of Man, Monte Carlo, Nurburgring, Peronne, Albi, Berne and Pescara. He was the only Thai race car driver to race until Alex Yoong in Formula One in 2001. Racing for Maserati, Gordini and the Connaught teams with his cousin prince Chula and his “White Mouse Racing team”, driving a Riley Imp at Brooklands in 1935, it was in this car that he established the national racing colours of Siam of pale blue with yellow, which became known as “Bira Blue”. At the end of 1937 Bira married Ceril Heycock, a young Englishwoman who he had first met at the Byam Shaw Art School, Campden Hill in 1933. By chance Bira was also aquainted with Way Heycock, Ceril’s brother while he was up at Cambridge.

Bira’s cousin and guardian Prince Chula, gave Ceril and Bira a cheque to furnish their new home, however he was to spend a sizeable portion on a new car, a blue Rolls Royce from Jack Barclay’s showroom. Bira whenever he had money could never resist spending it all at once. It was also through the generosity of Chula that Ceril was to aquire her jewellery gifted from Chula to Bira for Ceril. Chula whose mother was a Russian émigré had been gifted fabulous jewels from her mother in law, Queen Saowabha.  On discovering that Chula’s father had fallen in love with one of his nieces, and refusing to give her up Chula’s mother went to live in Shanghai, before her departure she gave back all her jewels to Queen Saowabha where they were kept until Chula came of age. When Chula married Cerils best friend Lisba, on 30th September 1938, he gave the jewels to his new wife and Ceril, presenting  the black opal and diamond set , saying only she could wear them as he knew no-one else born in October.

During the war years Bira and Ceril lived at “Rock”, in Cornwall, a temporary measure, which lasted for six years. When Japan declared war on Britain and the United states, Thailand brokered an alliance with the Japanese which safeguarded their independence and removed the threat of great loss of life that conflict with Japan would have created. On 25th January 1942 Thailand declared war on Britain and Bira and Ceril became enemy aliens, although soon after they became part of the Free Thai movement. During the war years Bira would make wooden toys which he sent to Hamleys and joined the Signals Section, later joining the Air Training Corps while Chula worked for the home guard, while Ceril and Lisba worked for the Red Cross. During their time at “Rock”, they entertained The 3rd Marquess of Milford Haven, Princess Marina, Anthony Blunt whom Chula had met at Cambridge and Guy Burgess who Bira had known at Eton as well as Noel Coward who visited frequently while he stayed nearby. After the war Bira and Ceril and Chula and Lisba all moved into a new house in Cornwall “Tredethy”

After the war Bira returned to racing with several teams, competed as an Olympic sailor at the Melbourne, Rome, Tokyo and Munich Olympics. In January of 1955 he won the New Zealand Grand Prix at Ardmore, retiring at the end of the season. He died at Barons Court tube station in 1985 at the age of 71.

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