All the king's men - Juels Limited

All the king’s men

It began at the sad occasion of the funeral of the late Lt Col Richard ‘Skid’ Dorney MBE at Salisbury Cathedral where I had a chance encounter with an old acquaintance from the Grenadier Guards. He inquired about my new profession in the jewellery trade and told me how he left the Grenadier Guards and joined the Yeoman Warders at the Tower of London. Following his retirement from that, he became a Yeoman of the Guard as a member of the King’s Body Guard.

We stayed in touch, and following the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, he inquired about commissioning a statuette for the yeomen who stood vigil while her majesty lay in state at Westminster Abbey. I set about the task with great vigour and enthusiasm – after all, I only had one chance to get this right.

Using our trade connections, we engaged with Elizabeth Grant, Beth for short, and she started the sculpture in clay taken from several photographs of Yeoman Kevin Kitcher.

Once the statuette was at a certain level of detailing, wax moulds were then taken. Then following several weeks of meticulous fine intricate working to both the uniform and regalia, Beth’s tireless work was at a stage ready to present to members of the King’s Body Guard.

Several of the yeomen were invited to visit Birmingham to view the statuette in its primary form. The yeomen appeared very interested throughout the various stages as to how the concept originated from an idea to the final product, and the whole process was explained to those attending.

The yeomen where then asked to examine the statuette with a magnifying glass and pointed out some very fine detailing to both the uniform and regalia that they would like to see included on the statuette. This level of detail would probably only ever be known to those who actually wear the uniform. Only an expert eye would notice such things as the positioning of the buckle on the monk-style shoe. Compared to how the rosette on the front of the shoe sits, the cross-belt clasp has to lay at a certain angle to the rear of the uniform.

Rather than just being sculpted in a disc form, the medals actually have the head of the monarch in relief detail. The partisan polearm that they hold has specific detailing in the head of the axe in the form of the royal coat of arms. And there is a specific number of rosettes around the hat.

The King’s Body Guard were kept informed throughout the process, with updated photographs at various stages in the production, which was very informative for them. Eventually, we were in a position to deliver the 49 individual statuettes ordered to the members of the Yeomen of the Guard who stood vigil. I was allowed to buy statuette number 50 for Juels’ Limited. So as a huge thank you to the King’s Body Guard, I decided to present the principal statuette to them as gift from us.

My reservation was getting a presentation box made within the time frame to marry them both together. Several vital measurements were made and sent directly to the manufacturer, who made a bespoke window-style box in dark blue leather with tooled gold gilt detailing on the lid. The inside contains both crushed navy-blue velvet and silk lining. The statuette fits perfectly.

A remarkable pairing has eventually made for the finest detailed military sculpture I have personally ever seen. We presented the statuette at St James’s Palace on February 5 as a thank you to those who did our nation proud.

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