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Last Updated: Friday, 10 February 2006, 13:49 GMT
Queen's gowns and gems displayed
The Queen in 1951 wearing a Norman Hartnell gown
Buckingham Palace will show 80 of the Queen's gowns
The largest ever exhibition of the Queen's evening gowns has been announced to mark her 80th birthday.

Eighty dresses, dating from the 1940s to the present day, will go on display at Buckingham Palace this summer.

Items from the Queen's sumptuous jewellery collection will also go on show, the Royal Collection says.

The gems will include famous priceless pieces and private family gifts to the Queen, who turns 80 on 21 April.

Anniversary present

Among the latter is a bracelet designed by the Duke of Edinburgh.

The gold, sapphire, diamond and ruby bracelet made by Boucheron was a gift to mark the royal couple's fifth wedding anniversary.

Gold tissue Hartnell gown overlaid with lace
The dresses were worn during official and private events

Also on show will be a pair of Cartier aquamarine and diamond clip-brooches given to Princess Elizabeth by her father, King George VI, for her 18th birthday.

The outfits will feature designs by couturiers Norman Hartnell and Hardy Amies, who worked for the Queen for many years.

The gowns were worn by the Queen for official engagements and private family events.

They include a gold tissue one-shouldered gown overlaid with fine lace made by Hartnell for the Queen's Commonwealth tour of 1953-54.

Priceless gems

The dresses will be shown together for the first time during Buckingham Palace's summer opening in August and September.

The Cullinan V Heart Brooch
Two brooches bear stones cut from the Cullinan Diamond

Famous pieces of priceless jewellery going on show will include the Vladimir Tiara, the Cambridge Emerald Necklace, and two brooches set with stones from the famous Cullinan Diamond.

As part of the birthday celebrations, Windsor Castle will stage a separate exhibition of photographs tracing the Queen's public and private life over the last 80 years.

It will contain formal records of state occasions and official portraits as well as little-known family snapshots.

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