31 December 2013

Sisi's Diamond Stars

Empress Elisabeth of Austria by Winterhalter [1]
Among the tiaras, necklaces, and orders that make up the bulk of modern-day royal jewel collections, you'll often find assorted sets of diamond stars. Sometimes they are worn on their own as brooches or hair ornaments; sometimes they're affixed to tiaras or necklaces. The nineteenth-century fashion that led so many royal families to acquire these star ornaments can be traced to one influential source: Empress Elisabeth of Austria, better known by her nickname, "Sisi."

Sisi's stars were made for her by Köchert, the imperial court jeweler. She ordered at least twenty-seven diamond and pearl stars from the jeweler herself [2]. Each of the stars is ten-pointed, and each features a single pearl set in the center of the design. Compared to the enormous, elaborate crown jewels of the period, these ornaments were small and probably seemed rather insignificant. But when Sisi posed for painted Franz Xaver Winterhalter in 1865 with the stars scattered throughout her famously lush hair, she started a fashion trend. Biographer Brigitte Hamann notes that Sisi also made a splash by appearing at various public events, including a court ball in Dresden for the wedding of her brother, wearing the glittering ornaments in her coiffure [3]. These public appearances, combined with the popularity of reproductions of the Winterhalter portrait, sent other European royals hunting for diamond star ornaments of their own.

Alexandra of Denmark, then Princess of
Wales, wears diamond stars on the
bodice of her gown [4]
Garrard supplied diamond star ornaments to Alexandra of Denmark, then Princess of Wales, across the channel in Britain. She often wore her diamond stars on the bodices of her gowns, as seen in the photograph on the right. She also used some of her stars on the diamond tiara that had been a wedding present from her husband [5]. Even more diamond stars were added to her collection in 1873, when an Indian shield was broken up by Garrard to produce the ornaments. Although Sisi is generally credited with launching the fashion for diamond stars, some think the trend might have died out had Alexandra not continued it [6].

A trove of diamond star ornaments is also found in the collection of the Dutch royal family. These stars were first owned by Queen Emma, who in 1879 received multiple sets as wedding gifts. The current generation of Dutch royal ladies wears the stars in various ways, but their most important outing in recent years was at the wedding of the current king and queen in 2002. Máxima used five of the ten-pointed diamond stars atop the base of the Pearl Button Tiara as her wedding diadem [7]

One of the most impressive examples of a nineteenth-century diamond star jewel is the Diadem of the Stars, which today is housed with the collection of crown jewels from the former royal family of Portugal. It was constructed for Queen Maria Pia of Portugal in 1863, at the time when Sisi's stars were becoming a matter of public fascination [8]. It also features a coordinating necklace.

The Diadem of the Stars [9]
While diamond stars began to proliferate in collections across Europe, Empress Elisabeth made it a habit of giving her diamond and pearl stars away. Some were gifts to her ladies-in-waiting, while others stayed within the family. Only a few of Sisi's jewels remain in Austria today, and in 1998, one of the Köchert stars was stolen from Schloss Schönbrunn. It was recovered in Winnipeg in 2007. [10]

1. Detail of  Franz Xaver Winterhalter's 1865 portrait of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, available via Wikimedia Commons; source here.
2. See "The World of the Habsburgs" for more.
3. See Brigitte Hamann, The Reluctant Empress: A Biography of Empress Elisabeth of Austria (2012).
4. Cropped version of a photograph in the public domain; source here.
5. This is the tiara often incorrectly referred to as the "Rundell" tiara; it was made by Garrard, not Rundell & Bridge. See A Tiara a Day and The Queen's Diamonds (Roberts).
6. See Ursula's website for more on these claims.
7. See John's website for much more detailed information on the various diamond star sets owned by the Dutch royals.
8. See this post from A Tiara a Day for more information.
9. Cropped version of photograph available via Wikimedia Commons; source here.
10. For much more on the theft and recovery of the diamond and pearl star, read here and here.

30 December 2013

Jewel History: The Bride of a Count (1896)

Louise Eugenie Bonaparte, Countess of Moltke-Huitfeldt [1]
"The Bride of a Count"
(originally appeared in the Washington Post, 30 Dec 1896)

Before the white marble altar of stately and imposing St. Paul's Church, illuminated with hundreds of brilliant candles and embedded with palms and gorgeous red and pure white bridal blossoms, and in the presence of a distinguished assemblage, Miss Louise Eugenie Bonaparte, only daughter of the late Col. Jerome-Napoleon Bonaparte [2], became yesterday morning at 11 o'clock the wife of Count Adam de Moltke-Huitfeldt, of Denmark, attaché of the Danish Legation at St. Petersburg.

The marriage was one of the most beautiful and notable which has taken place at the National Capital for a number of years, the alliance of the fair young bride of as distinguished and famous a name as history affords with the descendant of a leader of almost equal fame and the presence of the eminent dignitary of the church, Cardinal Gibbons [3], combining to make the nuptial scene one long to be remembered.

The bright sunshine of a perfect and ideal winter day as it fell with scintillating rays of prismatic color through the stained glass windows high above the altar upon the masses of white and cardinal bloom added the finishing touch to the ideal picture. The floral decorations, by Small, were exquisitely artistic. In the rear of the altar, reaching to the high windows above, were stately palms. The same foliage, surrounded the altar on either side, bringing out in striking relief the masses of brilliant red poinsettia and quantities of white Annunciation lilies which were gracefully grouped among the palms and red blossoms. Upon the altar amid the candles were poinsettia blossoms and the lilies, and the railing surrounding the sanctuary was trimmed with bunches of the lilies and their own foliage and asparagus vines tied with broad white satin bows.

The Cardinal's throne was erected to the right of the altar, and made a striking effect in its coloring, to the surroundings. The prie-dieux where the bridal couple kneeled during the nuptial mass, were also of cardinal and gold. Before the bride burned a candle encircled with a white ribbon bow, and before the bridegroom one upon which was a bow of cardinal ribbon.

The pews bordering the middle aisle were reserved for the family and distinguished guests. These were designated with ribbon streamers of white satin running lengthwise of the church instead of crossing the main aisle. At either end were clusters of the Annunciation lilies tied with great bows of white satin ribbon.

As the beautiful and inspiring strains of the Festival March from "Tannhauser," played by the organist, Miss Byrane, and accompanied by a portion of the Marine Band Orchestra, filled the church, the bridal party entered the sacred edifice, the bridegroom attended by the Danish Minister, Mr. Brun, as best man. Filing into the sanctuary and advancing to meet the bride, the acolytes passed before the altar preceding the pastor in charge, Rev. Father Foley, who was the celebrant at the nuptial mass, and finally, his eminence, Cardinal Gibbons, and his attendants.

The ushers who seated the brilliant assemblage, Mr. Charles McCawley, Mr. Van Rensselaer Berry, Mr. Robert Wallach, and Mr. Frank Andrews, led the way to the altar. They wore the conventional morning dress suit and large boutonnieres of lilies of the valley and an Annunciation lily, the bridegroom and his best man also wearing the same blossoms. The bride, who was unattended, was escorted by her uncle, Mr. Charles Joseph Bonaparte [4], of Baltimore, who gave her hand in marriage. Tall, beautiful, and aristocratic in her bearing, she looked exceptionally handsome in her superb bridal gown of ivory white satin, the skirt made with a long full train, and the bodice in the style now in vogue with short picturesque effect. Over the full, high puffed sleeves fell a bretelle, edged with rare old lace, of a narrow width. The finish about the throat was also of exquisite lace, amid which shone many handsome gems. Her long tulle veil, which completely enveloped her with its misty folds, was fastened to her wealth of short golden brown hair, with a graceful spray of lilies of the valley and jewels. She carried a great bouquet of the same flowers, surrounding white orchids and lilac. The blossoms also fell to the end of the long streamers in a shower effect.

Before the commencement of the solemn ceremony Cardinal Gibbons bestowed the special blessing of his holiness, the Pope of Rome [5], which had been sent to the young couple from over the seas. Following this Cardinal Gibbons delivered a brief and impressive address in his own beautiful words, filled with feeling and a loving admonition, for the two young hearts about to enter the sacred estate of marriage. At the completion of the exchange of vows and the solemn service nuptial mass was celebrated, Father Foley being the celebrant. The choir of which Prof. Treanor is director, sang Peter's mass in D, at the offertory Gounod's "Ave Maria" with violin obbligato, was brilliantly rendered in excellent voice by Mrs. Oscar Schmidt, and the selection was one of the features of the beautifully impressive musical service. At the conclusion of the mass and the Cardinal's blessing, to the accompaniment of beautiful music, the Count and Countess and the guests left the church.

Mme. Bonaparte [6], mother of the bride, was attired in a rich gown of black satin trimmed about the bodice with touches of white satin and handsome lace. The bonnet which completed the becoming toilet was of black velvet, with an aigrette of white. Among the guests present at the church were the British Ambassador and Lady Pauncefote [7], the Misses Pauncefote, the French Ambassador and Mme. Patenôtre [8], Senator and Mrs. Brice [9], the Misses Brice, Mr. and Mrs. Leiter [10], Miss Leiter, Dr. and Mrs. Loring, the Austrian Minister and Baroness Hengelmueller [11], Miss Elsie Anderson, Miss Alice Belknap, Mrs. Wallach, Mrs. Clifford Perin, and Mr. T. Sanford Beatty.

A wedding breakfast was served to the relatives and the bridal party, with two of the intimate friends of the bride, Miss Alice Belknap and Miss Elsie Anderson. The table, which was horseshoe-shaped, was decorated with a border of white orchids, carnations, and poinsettias, and resplendent with family plate and crystal.

The going-away gown of the Countess was of blue cloth with sable trimmings, with a handsome hat to correspond. The happy couple departed early in the afternoon for a honeymoon jaunt. They will return to Washington January 6, and will sail for Europe January 16, spending that interval of time with the mother of the bride. As the family carriage drove away yesterday the occupants were showered with rice and two dainty white satin slippers, thrown by Miss Belknap and Miss Anderson, landed upon the carriage top, and there remained, much to the amusement of the coachman and footman and the passers-by.

The bride's gifts made a magnificent collection, especially of jewels. The bridegroom presented the Moltke-Huitfeldt diamonds, a necklace of a pattern of roses and foliage with diamond pendants. From his mother came a tiara of rubies and diamonds. The bride's mother gave her a diamond bracelet and the ex-Empress Eugenie [12] sent her goddaughter a diamond crescent.

As the Count is in mourning, the Countess will also don black during the first few months of her life abroad.

The beautiful bride, tall and stately, of the brunette type, is the great-granddaughter of Jérôme Bonaparte and Mme. Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte, of Baltimore, the story of whose beauty and belleship and romantic life is known almost the world over. She was the daughter of William Patterson, of Baltimore, and became the wife of Jérôme Bonaparte, the youngest of the brothers of Napoleon, Christmas Eve, 1803. The wedding which gave every promise of being unusually happy, proved to be one of the saddest ever recorded upon the pages of history. For the Emperor, never having recognized it, forced Jerome to a union with Princess Catharina Frederica of Württemberg. The son of Mme. Bonaparte [13] was born at Camberwell, near London in 1805; his mother spent the early years of his boyhood in Baltimore, but took him to Europe to finish his education. He afterward went to Harvard, and in 1829 married Miss Susan Williams, of Baltimore. The eldest son of the late Jérôme-Napoléon Bonaparte was the father of the bride of yesterday [2], and his brother, Mr. Charles Joseph Bonaparte [4], consigned her to the bridegroom's keeping. Col. Bonaparte served with distinction in the French Army, and was decorated for many deeds of valor. At the close of the commune, he came back to this country to live. In 1871 he married Caroline LeRoy Appleton [6], then Mrs. Newbold Edgar, granddaughter of Daniel Webster.

1. Cropped version of a photograph in the public domain; source here.
2. Colonel Jerome-Napoleon Bonaparte II (1830-1893) was the American-born grandson of Jérôme Bonaparte (briefly King of Westphalia), who was the youngest brother of Napoleon Bonaparte. He graduated from West Point and later joined the French army after his cousin, Napoleon III, became emperor of France.
3. Cardinal James Gibbons was the archbishop of Baltimore.
4. Charles Joseph Bonaparte (1851-1921) was the younger brother of Colonel Jerome-Napoleon Bonaparte II. He served as Secretary of the Navy and was the U.S. Attorney General under President Theodore Roosevelt; he established the agency that later became the FBI.
5. Pope Leo XIII.
6. Caroline Bonaparte, née Caroline LeRoy Appleton (1840-1911), was the wife of Colonel Jerome-Napoleon Bonaparte II. She was a granddaughter of Daniel Webster. She had previously been married to Newbold Edgar.
7. Sir Julian Pauncefote was the British ambassador; his wife was Selina (Cubitt) Pauncefote.
8. Jules Patenôtre des Noyers was the French ambassador.
9. Calvin S. Brice was a Democratic senator from Ohio.
10. Levi Leiter was one of the founders of the Marshall Field department store company. Two of his daughters wed British aristocrats; Mary Victoria married the 1st Marquess Curzon of Kedleston, and Nancy married the 19th Earl of Suffolk and 12th Earl of Berkshire.
11. Ladislaus Hengelmüller von Hengervár was the Austro-Hungarian ambassador.
12. Eugénie de Montijo (1826-1920) was the wife of Napoleon III of France; she was also a godmother of Louise.
13. After Napoleon forced Jérôme to give up Elizabeth, she gave birth to the couple's only son, Jérôme Napoléon Bonaparte, in London. Jérôme Napoléon was the grandfather of Louise Bonaparte, the bride.

29 December 2013

Jewel Detective: Alexandra of Denmark

Queen Alexandra as Princess of Wales, 1881 [1]
Every Sunday, I'm going to hand the role of jewel detective over to all of you. Put on your magnifying glasses -- can you identify each piece of jewelry worn here by Alexandra of Denmark?

1. Photograph available via Wikimedia Commons; source here.

28 December 2013

Saturday Sparkler: The Luxembourg Empire Tiara

Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg wears the Empire Tiara [1]
If there were a contest for "biggest tiara in Europe," I'd be hard pressed to think of another sparkler that could best this one. The Empire Tiara owned by the grand ducal family of Luxembourg is a massive diamond fortress of a tiara. At more than four inches tall, it's a giant of the tiara world. Because of its size, the all-diamond tiara has plenty of room for the incorporation of numerous motifs, including geometric, anthemion, and scroll designs.

But even though it's such a knockout, its provenance is a bit unclear. This tiara gets its name from its empire style, not because it came from imperial vaults. It's an early nineteenth-century piece. For years, there were two major theories posited about how it arrived in Luxembourg. One traced it back to Romanov Russia via Grand Duchess Elizabeth Mikhailovna, the first wife of Grand Duke Adolphe. The other pointed to Adolphe's daughter, Grand Duchess Hilda of Baden, who died without descendants and may have left jewelry to her nieces. But the ladies over at Luxarazzi have done some digging into the family's jewel inventories, and they have ascertained that the piece was in the family's possession by 1829, making both of those previous theories impossible [2].

So the Luxarazzi ladies have posed a new theory: that the tiara was possibly acquired as a wedding gift for Pauline of Württemberg, who married Wilhelm, Duke of Nassau, in 1829. The German dukes of Nassau became the rulers of the grand duchy of Luxembourg in 1890, when salic law prevented Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands from ruling. (The two countries had been in a personal union; it's similar to what happened when Queen Victoria was unable to become Queen of Hanover in 1837.) The tiara came with the new Grand Duke Adolphe to Luxembourg. It's now mainly reserved for the use of the reigning grand duchess or the consort of a reigning grand duke.

It's also twice been used as a wedding tiara by members of the family. In 1919, it was worn by Grand Duchess Charlotte to marry Prince Felix of Bourbon-Parma; they're the grandparents of the current grand duke, Henri. (Their wedding photo is at the top of this post.) Charlotte's younger sister, Princess Hilda, also wore the tiara at her wedding to Adolf, the 10th Prince of Schwarzenberg, in 1930. The tiara was worn regularly by Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte during the twentieth century, and today it is worn by her daughter-in-law, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa. She tends to bring out the tiara only for the grandest of occasions, and it's easy to see why! [3]

1. Cropped photograph of Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg and her husband, Prince Felix of Bourbon-Parma, on their wedding day, 6 Nov 1919. Original image in the public domain.
2. Sydney at Luxarazzi notes that Jakob Tillmann Speltz carried out alterations on the tiara in 1829, but it is not clear whether he was the original maker of the piece; see here.
3. A version of this post originally appeared at A Tiara a Day in January 2013.

27 December 2013

This Week in Royal Jewels: December 20-26

December 20-26, 2013

Welcome to the very first installment of "This Week in Royal Jewels," my weekly roundup of bejeweled royal news from around the world! If you find a story or royal appearance that you think should be included in the weekly recap, please contact me via e-mail or Twitter.

Queen Elizabeth II of the UK wore her flower basket brooch and pearls for her annual Christmas broadcast. The brooch is the same one that she wore for the christening of Prince George of Cambridge; it was a present to her from her parents to mark the birth of Prince Charles in 1948. The choice was appropriate, as the speech mentioned the christening of the future monarch (and even included behind-the-scenes footage of the prince's christening photos).

For their annual outing to church on Christmas morning at Sandringham, the Windsor women chose understated jewelry. Queen Elizabeth chose pearls and one of Queen Victoria's bow brooches. The Duchess of Cambridge wore diamond and green amethyst earrings by Kiki McDonough. [2] Both the Duchess of Cornwall and Autumn Phillips added brooches to their winter coats. Zara Tindall chose small pearl earrings, and Princess Eugenie accessorized her hat with a small brooch.

1. Banner image: detail of The Marriage of George, Duke of York to Princess Mary of Teck (1894) by Laurits Tuxen. Image in the public domain; source here.
2. For a larger picture of Kate's earrings, and details on her outfit, see here.

26 December 2013

Jewel History: Shady Crown Jewels (1897)

A portion of the real French crown jewels, on display at the Louvre in Paris [1]
"Shady Crown Jewels"
(originally appeared in the Times of London, 26 Dec 1897)

From the London Chronicle: We are beginning to suspect the authenticity of the French Crown jewels. Some months ago a portion was put up at a Covent Garden auction room, and was not sold; quite recently another portion was on view in New York; yesterday a corsage, set with numerous brilliants, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires, also a muff chain, set with diamonds and other precious stones, and other articles were offered at a Bond Street auction room, and also failed to find a purchaser. The corsage is an extremely ornate affair, a trifle too glorious for the ordinary wear of any person lower than a reigning sovereign. Its reserve price is said to have been 1,000 pounds.

Note: For more on the nineteenth-century government sale of the French crown jewels, I'd recommend "The End of the French Crown Jewels" on this website.

1. Cropped version of a photograph available at Wikimedia Commons; source here.

25 December 2013

Birthday Jewels: Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester

Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester (1901-2004)[1]
Today the world marks the anniversary of the birth of Christ, but for the British royal family, there are other birthdays to remember as well. Two British princesses, one by blood and one by marriage, were also born on Christmas Day.One of them, Princess Alexandra, celebrates her 77th birthday today. But today, let's have a look at the jewels worn by the second: the late Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester.

In 1901, the Lady Alice Montagu-Douglas-Scott was born on Christmas Day in London. Her father was the 7th Duke of Buccleuch and 9th Duke of Queensberry, and her mother was the daughter of the 4th Earl of Bradford, which meant that although little Alice was not born with a royal title, she had royal blood. Through her father, she was a direct descendant of one of the many illegitimate children of King Charles II. [2]

Alice's engagement to Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, was announced in the summer of 1935. When they wed on 6 November 1935 in the private chapel at Buckingham Palace, Alice was showered with gifts of jewels befitting her new royal role. (Indeed, the archbishop who married the couple was reportedly much more impressed with the bride than with her royal groom, telling another clergyman, "I have joined a very fine jewel to a very rough diamond." [3]) Her new parents-in-law, King George V and Queen Mary, gave her a suite of diamond and pearl jewels, including a diamond collet necklace (seen in the photograph above), three brooches, a pair of earrings, and two rings. From Queen Mary, Alice also received a turquoise parure from the Teck family (including the tiara worn above). Alice's new husband gave her a set of diamond and emerald jewels, including two tiaras, three brooches, bracelets, and a pair of earrings. [4]

Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester [7]
One of the diamond brooches given to Alice by Henry was an antique diamond knot brooch, which featured diamond drops suspended from each end of the diamond "ribbon." (You can see the brooch pinned to Alice's sash in the photo at left.) [5] The brooch was sold at Sotheby's in 2012. [6]

Alice eventually received even more jewels, further expanding the Gloucester collection. Queen Mary gave Alice another tiara, the diamond honeysuckle tiara made for her by E. Wolff & Co. in 1914. The tiara was made to have its central element swapped out for different pieces. Queen Mary wore the tiara with the Cullinan V diamond; Alice, however, received the sparkler with a diamond honeysuckle element.

When Queen Mary died in 1953, Alice inherited the pink kunzite stone that can be worn in the honeysuckle tiara. She also received yet another tiara from her mother-in-law's estate: the diamond Iveagh tiara, which Mary had received as a wedding present from the Guinness family. Alice's granddaughter, Lady Rose Windsor, wore this tiara at her wedding in 2008.

Alice's son and daughter-in-law, the current Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, still own many of the jewels that Alice received over the course of her lifetime. Some of these Alice gave to her daughter-in-law when she became duchess in the 1970s. When Alice died, she was the oldest member of the royal family, and she left behind a sparkling legacy and a great example for future royal brides. (And some pretty great bejeweled Cecil Beaton portraits at the National Portrait Gallery, too!)

1. Cropped version of photograph available at Wikimedia Commons; source here.
2. Alice's cousin, Sarah Ferguson, also shares this royal lineage, as do her daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie of York.
3. The quotation comes from a Telegraph profile marking Princess Alice's hundredth birthday in 2001; source here.
4. See Ursula's website for more on Alice's wedding gifts.
5. A larger photograph of the brooch is available at Ursula's website.
7. Photograph available at Wikimedia Commons; source here.

24 December 2013

Christmas Broadcast Brooches

The Queen's Christmas Broadcast, 2012 [1]
For the past half century, televisions have been turned on at three o'clock in the afternoon on Christmas Day for Queen Elizabeth II's annual Christmas message. Most of the broadcasts are filmed at one of the royal palaces, and almost all of them include footage of the Queen's activities over the year mixed in with statements encouraging people throughout the Commonwealth to reflect on the meaning of Christmas.

Many of the broadcasts are available to watch on YouTube, and Wikipedia also has a handy outline that covers the content of each message, from George V's first radio-aired message in 1932 (written by Rudyard Kipling), all the way to the 2012 message, which was the first to be broadcast in 3D. But today, we're going to spend a little time talking about the sparkly part of this annual tradition: the brooches that the Queen wears while delivering her speech.

Christmas Broadcast 1957 [2]
At the start of her reign, the Queen went brooch-less for the broadcast. For her first televised Christmas message, she chose one of her signature three-stranded pearl necklaces [3] and a shiny dress that sparkled on its own. But as years went on, the brooches that have become a regular part of her daytime jewelry rotation began to pop up with strands of pearls in the Christmas broadcast, too.

Left: Christmas Broadcast 1997 [4]; Right: Christmas Broadcast 2000 [5]
One of the brooches that shows up frequently on the Queen during these broadcasts is the Pearl Quatrefoil Brooch (also sometimes called the "pearl trefoil brooch"). Unlike lots of the other brooches in her collection, this one was apparently not inherited from another member of the family. Leslie Field notes that the Queen first sported the brooch in the middle years of the 1980s [6], and indeed, she wore the brooch for her Christmas broadcasts in 1985, 1992, 1997, and 2000.

Christmas Broadcast 1987 [7]
For one of her broadcasts in the 1980s, the Queen paired a bright blue dress with one of the most important brooches in the royal collection: the Prince Albert Brooch [8]. This brooch, made of a large, faceted sapphire surrounded by twelve round diamonds, dates to the 1840s. It was Prince Albert's wedding gift to his bride, Queen Victoria, who treasured the piece and designated it as an heirloom of the crown. It has been worn by all subsequent British queens, including Elizabeth II on this occasion in 1987.

Christmas Broadcast 1994 [9]
Another heirloom sapphire brooch that has appeared on one of the Christmas broadcasts is Empress Marie Feodorovna's Sapphire Brooch, a piece that Queen Mary purchased from the estate of the late empress in 1930 [10]. The brooch was an especially good candidate to return to Britain, as it was given to Marie Feodorovna (who was born Princess Dagmar of Denmark) as a wedding present in 1866 by her sister and brother-in-law, the Prince and Princess of Wales (later King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra). Like the Albert brooch, this piece features a sapphire ringed with diamonds; however, this brooch has a cabochon sapphire set in its center, and it includes a drop pearl.

Left: Christmas Broadcast 1988 [11]; Right: Christmas Broadcast 2006 [12]
An example of a brooch that has been worn in more than one broadcast over the course of decades is the Flower Basket Brooch, which is reported to be one of the Queen's favorites [13]. The colorful brooch was a gift from her parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, in November 1948 to mark the birth of Prince Charles. The then-princess wore the brooch for her son's first official photograph, and she has continued to wear it over the years.

Left: Christmas Broadcast 1986 [14]; Right: Christmas Broadcast 2007 [15]
Another colorful repeated brooch is the Grima Ruby Brooch, which appeared in the 1986 and 2007 Christmas broadcasts. The brooch was made for the Queen by Andrew Grima in the 1960s and features cabochon rubies set in a modern gold design [16]. Sadly, Grima died only a day after the queen appeared on the Christmas broadcast wearing the brooch in 2007. [17]

Christmas Broadcast 1995 [18]
An especially appropriate choice for Christmas is the Jardine Star Brooch, which the Queen has worn twice during her Christmas message. The Queen inherited the diamond star brooch from Lady Jardine in 1981 [19], and she put it to use quickly, wearing it for her Christmas broadcast in 1982 and then again in 1995.

Christmas Broadcast 1998 [20]
One of the queen's most famous brooches has made very few Christmas broadcast appearances. The Williamson Diamond Brooch contains one of the most valuable diamonds in the world: the pink diamond given to Elizabeth as a wedding present by John Williamson [21]. The Cartier brooch was designed around the Williamson diamond and was completed in 1952. The queen most recently chose the Williamson brooch for her 1998 Christmas broadcast.

Christmas Broadcast 2009 [22]
Another brooch that has appeared only once in recent Christmas broadcasts is Queen Victoria's Pearl Brooch [23]. Made of eight pearls set in diamonds, with three more drop pearls suspended from the central element, the brooch should have passed to the Queen upon her accession in 1952. But as was the case with so many pieces, it was retained instead by the Queen Mother, who wore it up until her death in 2002. The Queen inherited the brooch with the majority of the rest of the Queen Mother's jewelry, and she wore it for her Christmas message in 2009.

Christmas Broadcast 2011 [24]
The brooch chosen by the Queen for her 2011 Christmas broadcast, which featured footage of two of her grandchildren's weddings, was one that she has had since she was a princess: the Flame Lily Brooch [25]. It was a present from the children of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) to mark her twenty-first birthday in 1947. She memorably chose this brooch to wear as she arrived in Britain after unexpectedly ascending to the throne during a visit to Kenya. Today, the Queen actually owns a second brooch of the same design, which she inherited from her mother in 2002.

Left: Christmas Broadcast 1996 [26]; Right: Christmas Broadcast 2012 [27]
While many brooches from the Queen's collection have made only fleeting appearances in her televised messages, the Duchess of Cambridge's Pendant Brooch has appeared at least four times [28]. This brooch is a family heirloom with a long history. It originally belonged to Queen Mary's grandmother, the Duchess of Cambridge, and was one of Mary's most-worn brooches. She wore it on important occasions, including the christenings of the present queen and of Prince Charles. The Queen inherited the brooch from her grandmother in 1953, and she has worn it for Christmas broadcasts in 1971, 1978, 1996, and 2012.

Left: Christmas Broadcast 1999 [29]; Right: Christmas Broadcast 2008 [30]
Right up there with the Cambridge brooch in terms of frequent Christmas broadcast appearances is one of the most important brooches in the royal collection: the Cullinan V Brooch, made from one of the stones cut from the enormous Cullinan diamond [31]. The Cullinan V is the heart-shaped diamond from the set, and the brooch also features additional diamonds set in platinum. The Queen has worn the Cullinan V Brooch for no less than four of her Christmas broadcasts, including the messages from 1975, 1981, 1999, and 2008.

While you watch the Queen's broadcast tomorrow, keep your eyes peeled to see whether she chooses to repeat one of these brooches or selects a completely different one for the occasion. In the meantime, you can catch up on previous Christmas messages with this YouTube playlist [32].

1. Cropped still from a YouTube video of the Queen's 2012 Christmas broadcast; source here.
2. Cropped still from a YouTube video of the Queen's 1957 Christmas broadcast; source here.
3. In The Queen's Jewels, Leslie Field notes that the Queen has three different three-strand pearl necklaces: "One is of graduated pearls from the family collection, which the Queen had made up with a diamond clasp soon after her accession. The second triple-row necklace was a Coronation present to the Queen in 1953 from the Amir of Qatar. It too has a clasp of brilliant-cut diamonds. The third was a gift from King George to celebrate his Silver Jubilee" (pg. 101).
4. Cropped still from a YouTube video of the Queen's 1997 Christmas broadcast; source here.
5. Cropped still from a YouTube video of the Queen's 2000 Christmas broadcast; source here.
6. Field states that this brooch is "a large diamond quatrefoil set with pearls having a pearl and diamond cluster in the centre," and that the piece was "first seen in the mid-1980s" (pg. 112).
7. Cropped still from a YouTube video of the Queen's 1987 Christmas broadcast; source here.
8. See the Royal Collection website, as well as Field, pg. 150. In The Royal Jewels, Suzy Menkes notes that there are multiple copies of the brooch in existence: "Prince Albert made copies of the brooch for his own daughters, and the Queen has given one of these to the Princess Royal" (pg. 9). She states further, "The Princess Royal wears one of the copies of Queen Victoria's brooch that Prince Albert had made for his elder daughters. When one came on the market, the Queen bought it back for her own daughter" (pg. 156).
9. Cropped still from a YouTube video of the Queen's 1994 Christmas broadcast; source here.
10. See Field, pg. 153. While Field states that the brooch was purchased in 1929, the inventory of Marie Feodorovna's jewels sold by Hennell notes that the piece was bought by Queen Mary on 3 Oct 1930. The list is available here on Ursula's website; the brooch is item #42 and described as a "brooch w/oval cabochon sapphire surrounded by diamonds & pear-shaped pearl."
11. Cropped still from a YouTube video of the Queen's 1988 Christmas broadcast; source here.
12. Cropped still from a YouTube video of the Queen's 2006 Christmas broadcast; source here.
13. See Field, pg. 60.
14. Cropped still from a YouTube video of the Queen's 1986 Christmas broadcast; source here.
15. Cropped still from a YouTube video of the Queen's 2007 Christmas broadcast; source here.
16. Field notes, "Since her marriage in 1947 the Queen has been given six brooches of varying design set with rubies and diamonds. She wore one of these, a modern gold free-form shape, set with seven carved rubies, for her 1986 Christmas television broadcast to the Commonwealth" (pg. 138). Grima Jewellery often publishes photos on its website of the Queen wearing this brooch at various engagements (for example, her historic state visit to Ireland in May 2011).
17. Andrew Grima died 26 Dec 2007; see his obituary on the Guardian website.
18. Cropped still from a YouTube video of the Queen's 1995 Christmas broadcast; source here.
19. Field states, "In 1981 the Queen was left a late-Victorian diamond star brooch by Lady Jardine, which she has worn on many occasions. It has a collet diamond on a knife-wire between each of its eight points" (pg. 34).
20. Cropped still from a YouTube video of the Queen's 1998 Christmas broadcast; source here.
21. In The Queen's Diamonds, Hugh Roberts states, "Dr Williamson presented the diamond (uncut and weighing 54.5 metric carats) to Princess Elizabeth" (pg. 294). See also Field, pg. 102, and the Royal Collection website.
22. Cropped still from a YouTube video of the Queen's 2009 Christmas broadcast; source here.
23. Like the Albert brooch, this brooch is an heirloom of the Crown. Field notes, "Another brooch that Queen Victoria left to the Crown was a large diamond-shaped design set with numerous diamonds, eight pearls and three pendant pearl drops. Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother wore this a great deal in the 1950s but it has not been seen for many years" (pg. 110). The Queen Mother was seen wearing the brooch in the years following the 1987 publication of Field's book; see the photographs here at the Royal Jewels of the World Message Board.
24. Cropped still from a YouTube video of the Queen's 2011 Christmas broadcast; source here.
25. See Roberts, pg. 268; Field, pg. 33; and the Royal Collection website.
26. Cropped still from a YouTube video of the Queen's 1996 Christmas broadcast; source here.
27. Cropped still from a YouTube video of the Queen's 2012 Christmas broadcast; source here.
28. See Roberts, pg. 118, and Field, pg. 133.
29. Cropped still from a YouTube video of the Queen's 1999 Christmas broadcast; source here.
30. Cropped still from a YouTube video of the Queen's 2008 Christmas broadcast; source here.
31. See Roberts, pg. 164; Field, pg. 76; and the Royal Collection website.
32. For even more photographs and information about the Queen's Christmas broadcasts over the year, see this 2012 article on the Daily Mail website and this thread from the Alexander Palace Time Machine Discussion Forum.

23 December 2013

Jewel History: The Crown Jewels (1857)

Grand Duchess Alexandra of Mecklenburg-Schwerin wears Queen Charlotte's nuptial crown [1]
"The Crown Jewels"
(originally appeared in the Times of London, 23 Dec 1857)

We find the following in a letter from Hanover, of December 19:

"The hearts of the King and Royal Family of this country have been much rejoiced by intelligence which has just reached them through the Hanoverian Minister at the Court of St. James's, that the long dispute between the King of Hanover and the Queen of England respecting the right to certain jewels of enormous value, in the possession of the Sovereign of England, and forming no inconsiderable portion of what have been hitherto called the British Crown jewels, has been decided in favour of Hanover.

"Many of your readers are no doubt aware that when the kingdom of Hanover was severed from the United Kingdom by the accession of Queen Victoria to the throne, a claim was made by the late King of Hanover, formerly the Duke of Cumberland, to nearly the whole of the jewels usually worn on State occasions by the English Sovereign, on the ground that part of them, which had been taken over to England by George I, belonged inalienably to the Crown of Hanover; and that the remainder had been purchased by George III out of his privy purse, and had been left him by his Queen Charlotte to the Royal Family of Hanover.

"As the jewels thus claimed are supposed to be worth considerably more than 1,000,000 pounds, a single stone having cost nearly 20,000 pounds, they were not to be relinquished without a struggle; and I am assured that every possible expedient was resorted to in England to baffle the claimant. 

"Ultimately, in the lifetime of the late King, the importunity of the Hanoverian Minister in London drove the English Ministry of the day to consent that the rights of the two Sovereigns abroad should be submitted to a commission composed of three English judges; but the proceedings of the commission were so ingeniously protracted that all the commissioners died without arriving at any decision; and until Lord Clarendon received the seals of the British foreign office all the efforts of the Court of Hanover to obtain a fresh commission were vain. Lord Clarendon, however, seems to have perceived that such attempts to stifle inquiry were unworthy of his country, for he consented that a fresh commission should be issued to three English judges of the highest eminence, who, after investigation, found the Hanoverian claim to be indisputably just, and reported in its favour.

"The Court here consequently is in high glee this Christmas at the prospect of removing the Crown and regalia, so jealously guarded in the Tower of London, almost bodily to Hanover." -- Globe


Note: Queen Victoria subsequently returned only a few items to her Hanoverian cousins, including Queen Charlotte's small diamond nuptial crown [2] and a few other diamond pieces.

1. Detail of German picture postcard. Caption reads "Grossherzog Friedrich Franz IV und Grossherzogin Alexandra von Mecklenburg-Schwerin. Feierlicher Einzug in Schwerin am 5. Juli 1904." Image in the public domain; source here.
2. The small diamond nuptial crown has been worn by several Hanoverian brides, including Queen Friederike of the Hellenes, since its repatriation. It was used most recently in 1981. See Ursula's page for more, including larger photographs.