Jeremy Mainwaring-Burton is a geologist, gemmologist and former Army officer, one of whose more unusual jobs was to serve the Queen Mother as her equerry. He is also an accomplished speaker and his skilfully illustrated talks - one about staying at the Castle of Mey and the other about the Queen Mother’s love of jewellery - provide fascinating insights into the life of one of the 20th Century’s most famous personalities.
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On graduating from Durham University with a degree in geology, Jeremy was offered a job as a mining geologist in Zambia. But rather than eke out the remainder of his youth down a copper mine, he thought it would be more fun to join the Army. And indeed it was. On leaving Sandhurst he spent five years in the Irish Guards, the last two and a half of which were on secondment to Clarence House as the Queen Mother’s equerry.
The Queen Mother would spend every August at the Castle of Mey, her property near John O’Groats on the north coast of Scotland. Jeremy first stayed there when serving as Her Majesty’s equerry and on numerous occasions thereafter as one of her guests. When she died in 2002 he was asked to help open the castle to the public and what was supposed to be a six week appointment lasted six years. As a result, he has spent more time at the Castle of Mey over the years than its royal owner ever did.
Being a geologist Jeremy couldn’t help but notice the magnificent gemstones in the jewellery the Queen Mother used to wear. Indeed, if he admired a certain item she would sometimes take it off and give it to him to have a closer look. This inspired him to study gemmology and when he left the Army he qualified as a Fellow of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain. Although this resulted in him spending many years as a precious stone dealer in London’s Hatton Garden he has also worked as an exploration geologist in South Africa, a gold and diamond prospector in South America and a gold-miner in California.
He now lives quietly in rural Oxfordshire where he continues to prospect for gold using a metal detector rather than a gold pan.
The Queen Mother at the Castle of Mey
Illustrated with a wealth of personal photographs, this is a highly amusing account of what life was like at the Castle of Mey, not only for the Queen Mother but also for those lucky enough to be invited to stay there as guests.
The Queen Mother’s Lifelong Love of Jewellery
The Queen Mother had access so much jewellery it would be almost impossible to describe it all, so In this fascinating, fully-illustrated talk Jeremy concentrates on a selection of items which are of gemmological and historic interest, and have an amusing story attached.