22 April 2018

The Flower Basket Brooch

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Our celebration of Queen Elizabeth II's 92nd birthday rolls on today with a look at one of her most sentimental brooches: the sweet basket of gem-studded flowers that she's worn for seven decades.


The flower basket brooch -- which Leslie Field notes is an example of what is sometimes called a "giardinetti," or "little garden" -- was given to the Queen in 1948 by her parents. It was a present to mark the birth of her first child, Prince Charles, who also happened to be a future heir to the throne.

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The Queen, then still Princess Elizabeth, wore the brooch for Charles's first official photograph. Although Elizabeth's maternal joy is evident on her face, the black-and-white portrait doesn't show off the true colorful joy of the brooch, as it's set with diamonds as well as sapphires, rubies, and emeralds.

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Elizabeth made the brooch a regular part of her jewelry wardrobe in the years after Charles's birth. Above, in October 1949, she wore the brooch during a visit to a council estate in Ilford.

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Two years later, in August 1951, she wore the brooch on her arrival at London Airport, before heading off for her annual holiday at Balmoral.

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Even after her accession, the brooch has remained a central part of HM's jewel rotation, especially in recent years. Above, in June 2016, she wears the brooch for the opening of the Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre. Although the various gems in the brooch mean that it coordinates well with lots of colors, the Queen tends to wear the brooch most often with clothing in different shades of blue.


In 2013, she sentimentally chose the brooch for a very important family event: the christening of Prince Charles's first grandchild, Prince George. The presence of the brooch at the christening provided a visual link between baby George with his great-great-grandparents, who would undoubtedly have been thrilled about the little future king (and his name)!


And that Christmas, the Queen used the brooch in her annual Christmas message as a visual symbol of the succession -- a brooch presented by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to Queen Elizabeth II, in honor of the birth of the future King Charles III, then worn at the christening of the future King George VII, son of the future King William V. Whew!

This is an updated and expanded version of an earlier post, with new text and images.