King Alfonso XIII of Spain Presentation Gold Cigarette Case, 1907
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8.5cm (3.5in) x 3.8cm (2.25in) x 1.5cm (.75in)
Gold cigarette case applied with the crowned cypher of King Alphonso XIII (reigned 1886-1931) in diamonds and sapphires, the hinged lid with gold thumb piece, and bottom with sapphire cabochon push catch. Given by King Alphonso to his host at a Royal shooting party attended by King Edward VII at West Dean Park, Sussex; the interior of the lid inscribed ‘Presented to W. James / by / King Alphonso XIII / Novr 1907’.
The present cigarette case was presented to American William James in November 1907 when King Alphonso of Spain and Edward VII were guests at a shooting party at West Dean Park, his Sussex estate. James’s wife Evelyn was the daughter of a Scottish baronet whose estate bordered Balmoral. Mrs Willie James a noted society hostess, was a long standing friend of Edward VII. Edward was both a regular guest at West Dean and an avuncular figure to the young Spanish king.
King Alphonso XIII of Spain was the Spanish sovereign from his birth in 1886 until the advent of the Second Republic in 1931. In earlier, happier times while on a State Visit to the United Kingdom in 1905, he met Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria. The two soon began corresponding and wished to marry. However, there were three obstacles; religion, the Battenberg haemophilia, and the Dowager Queen of Spain who believed Eugenie to be insufficiently royal. Eventually, all three obstacles were overcome. Victoria Eugenie (known as Ena) agreed to convert to Catholicism. Alphonso accepted the risk of haemophilia, and her uncle, Edward VII, raised her style to Her Royal Highness, so as to remove any question of the marriage being unequal. The couple married in 1906, at the Royal Monastery of San Jerónimo in Madrid, Spain in a wedding attended by many royals from around the world. The wedding was not, however, without incident. While the wedding procession was returning to the Royal Palace, an assassination attempt was made on the King and his new Queen. Both Alphonso and Ena were unharmed, however, several guards and bystanders were killed or injured.
William Dodge James (1854-1912) of West Dean, Sussex was a son of an American copper mining and railroad magnate. He and his brother Frank (1851-1890) were well-travelled explorers, photographers and sportsmen. William was succeeded at West Dean by his son Edward Frank Willis James (1907-1984) who was named for his godfather King Edward VII. Educated at Eton and Oxford, Edward James later became the visionary patron of the Surrealists Salvador Dali and René Magritte.