15+ Meaningful Brooches That Have Graced the Chests of Royal Ladies
If there is something that distinguishes the members of the British royal family it is the way they use luxurious and shiny accessories as part of their daily attire. On many occasions, it is thought that the jewelry that the royal ladies carry with them is only meant to embellish their outfits, but that is definitely not the case when it comes to brooches. They go beyond being a simple adornment, as these objects have a meaning or origin that can be as important as the title held by the royals or the obligations they have to society.
Bright Side couldn’t ignore the beauty of these royal brooches and wants to show you some of the most famous ones. They’re so important that some of these have even been spotted on the attire of Queen Elizabeth II or other ladies of the British monarchy.
1. Turquoise and diamond brooch
According to a statement published on social media by author Vincent Meylan who specializes in jewelry, this brooch was originally a wedding gift that Mary of Teck received in 1893 from her father, King Edward VII. The piece features a large round turquoise that’s surrounded by several diamonds. Mary of Teck kept this piece until her death in 1953. It was then when the brooch was inherited by Queen Elizabeth II, who didn’t wear it for a long time. In fact, we had to wait until 2014 to see Her Majesty wear this beautiful piece in public for the first time. After that, the brooch could be seen again during a message she delivered to the British people in April 2020.
2. Empress Maria Feodorovna’s sapphire brooch
It is believed that this piece can be traced back to 1866. During that year, future King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra (then the Prince and Princess of Wales) presented this astonishing piece to Queen Alexandra’s sister, Minnie, to celebrate her marriage to the future Emperor Alexander III of Russia. It’s a cabochon sapphire brooch surrounded by 2 rows of diamonds and it has a pearl drop hanging from another diamond. Following her marriage, Minnie went on to be known as Empress Maria Feodorovna, which is how the piece got its name.
After her death, her daughters inherited the brooch that was later acquired at auction by Queen Mary, Elizabeth II’s grandmother. The Queen wore this brooch during her silver jubilee in 1977, and in 2020 she posed with it alongside Princes Charles, William, and George, the first in line to the throne.
3. Prince of Wales’ feather and diamond brooch
This jewel was one of Princess Diana’s most distinctive accessories. It is meant to represent the 3 feathers of the Prince of Wales’ badge and features an oval of diamonds. It is believed to have been originally created as a wedding gift for Princess Alexandra in 1863 and that it was intended to be a brooch. Later on, Lady Di received it as a gift from the Queen Mother in 1981 and transformed it into a necklace. Today it’s Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, who owns it and she turned it back into a brooch, as it was originally worn.
4. Queen Victoria’s bow
Just like with the sapphire brooch that Prince Albert gave to Victoria before their wedding, this beautiful piece, which is actually part of a set of 3 bows—all of them adorned with diamonds of different sizes, was created by Garrard in 1858. The renowned jewelry house revealed that Victoria wore 2 or 3 of these bows with her attire for special events. Queen Elizabeth II could be seen wearing this original brooch on September 9, 2015, on one of the most special occasions: the day in which she celebrated that she became the monarch with the longest reign in the history of the royal family.
5. New Zealand’s silver fern
One of the things the royal family can proudly boast of is that they own a diamond-studded version featuring the oceanic country’s distinctive symbol. According to research carried out in the historical archives of Auckland’s libraries, the brooch was a Christmas gift that Queen Elizabeth II received in 1953 from Lady Allum, wife of Sir John Allum, the then-mayor of the city of Auckland. Since then, both the sovereign and the Duchess of Cambridge have it by their side whenever there is any event related to New Zealand, like their official visits to the country.
6. Cullinan V
This brooch has as its most distinctive feature a gem cut in the shape of a heart. This actually is nothing but a small part of a huge diamond that was extracted from a South African mine back in 1905. The value of that precious find was believed to be more than 3 thousand carats. The brooch was first owned by Mary of Teck, Queen Elizabeth’s grandmother. Of course, now, it’s Her Majesty herself who owns this special brooch. She appeared wearing this jewel during London Fashion Week in 2018.
7. Cullinan III and IV
It is believed that the original Cullinan diamond, the same with which the previous piece we mentioned was made, was cut into 105 pieces. 2 of those pieces, the Cullinan III and the Cullinan IV, are usually seen joined together as a brooch. The Cullinan III is pear-shaped and weighs approximately 94 carats. The 63-carat Cullinan IV was cut into the shape of a square.
8. Queen Mary’s True Lover’s Knot
This is another jewel from Queen Elizabeth’s collection that was inherited from her grandmother, Queen Mary, who was said to be an enthusiast of jewelry and a great collector. This brooch is striking and unique for 2 reasons: the first lies in its wide bow shape, encrusted with diamonds and dangling tassels that distinguish it at first glance from the rest of the Queen’s collection. The second reason is that the jewel lived up to its name is because it was worn as part of the attire of the Queen to the wedding of her sister, Princess Margaret, in 1960. It was also part of her attire at the wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011.
9. Royal Navy Gold Dolphin Badge
This golden insignia containing the silhouette of 2 dolphins, an anchor, and a crown on the top was introduced in 1972 by the Royal Navy, and it is meant to be worn by the submarine service personnel as a merit for their highly qualified service when performing their duties. As written by reporter Richard Palmer, the navy presented this insignia to the Duchess of Cambridge, who wore it during the parade on the River Thames for Queen Elizabeth’s diamond jubilee in 2012.
10. Brazilian aquamarine brooch
In 1953, Queen Elizabeth received, on behalf of the president and the people of Brazil, a set of matching jewelry (often called a parure) containing a necklace and matching pendant earrings of aquamarines and diamonds as a coronation gift. Because Her Majesty likes this precious stone so much, she subsequently had a matching tiara made. Then, the Government of Brazil decided to add to its gift a bracelet of oblong aquamarines set in a cluster of diamonds, and a square aquamarine and diamond brooch. This piece could be seen during the 2012 Royal Ascot, where the Queen wore it as shown in the image above.
11. Maple leaf with diamonds
A jeweler’s statement pointed out that this piece was originally created with a double leaf for the wife of an English businessman. Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, was so amazed when she first saw it that the owner of the brooch took the pieces apart and gave her one of them as a gift, keeping the other to herself. Since then, ladies like Queen Elizabeth II, Kate Middleton, and Camilla of Cornwall have worn the brooch on their trips to Canada or at any event related to this North American country, the maple leaf being its national symbol.
12. The lily of the city of London
This brooch was a present given to the Queen by the City of London back in 1947 when she was still a Princess. It was this same year when she was appointed with the title of “Freedom Of City,” the highest honor that the capital city of England can offer and that’s what the brooch symbolizes. Since then, Her Majesty usually wears it when there are outdoor celebrations and good weather. The Royal Ascot is her favorite event to show it off at. The people of Australia also had the opportunity to see it in person during her visit in 2011.
13. Jardine Star brooch
According to the book The Queen’s Jewels written by Leslie Field, and quoted in the media, this brooch was offered to Queen Elizabeth by the Scottish aristocrat, Lady Jardine, back in 1981. The design is made up of 8 diamond rays separated by a single collet that fan out from a central cluster of a large diamond into 8 smaller stones. In recent years, the monarch has worn it frequently at events like the centenary of the Royal Air Force and her Jubilee. It was also seen during her 2017 Christmas message and it’s said to be one of her favorite brooches.
14. The Rifles Brooch
One of the most recent brooches received by the royal family is now in the hands of the Duchess of Cornwall. In 2020, Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, assigned Camilla to be the new Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles infantry regiment, to replace him in his duties as each battalion has its own Royal Colonel. In any case, after receiving the title, she was presented with a decoration worn by members of the regiment known as the cap badge, consisting of a silver-plated horn-shaped bugle.
15. Irish guard shamrock
Kate Middleton is the member of the Royal family who currently wears this shamrock-shaped piece with golden tones and an emerald right in the center. She wears it regularly at events related to Ireland and Irish culture in general, like St. Patrick’s Day. According to author James Wilson’s account, in 1961, the Irish Guards regiment awarded the brooch to Princess Mary, Princess Royal. Other members of the royal family who wore the shamrock were the Queen Mother and Princess Anne.
16. Sapphire chrysanthemum brooch
This is another piece that can be considered special in the collection of the monarch of the United Kingdom. Although it is said that the sapphire brooch, in the shape of a chrysanthemum with diamonds around it, was a gift she received in 1946 when she christened an oil tanker, it is more commonly remembered for being the accessory she wore in the official pictures taken of her honeymoon with Prince Philip in 1947. After being seen in 2007 and again in 2020 to celebrate her wedding anniversary, it could be determined that the brilliance of this jewel has remained intact.
Do you have a brooch or other jewelry that has been passed down through generations in your family? Tell us about the sentimental value of that special accessory!