06 May 2018

The Queen Mother's Modern Emerald Floral Brooch


The Queen Mother's brooch collection was extensive, but toward the end of her life, she tended to wear mostly a few favorite pieces. One of them was today's brooch, her modern floral diamond and emerald brooch.

Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

In The Queen's Jewels, Leslie Field notes that the Queen Mother's jewelry box includes "two large emerald and diamond brooches." This brooch, which features a large faceted emerald surrounded by diamonds in a modern floral design, is presumed to be one of the two that Field mentioned. Like several of the Queen Mother's favorite brooches, this diamond and emerald brooch also features a diamond chain with a pear-shaped diamond drop. Boffer describes the border of this brooch as being composed of "diamond set fleur-de-lys motifs."

Many have speculated that this brooch was part of the massive Greville Bequest, a jewelry collection bequeathed to the Queen Mother by Mrs. Greville in 1942, but to my knowledge, we've never received confirmation of that provenance. (Please correct me in the comments if I'm wrong about that!) But Greville or not, the Queen Mum does seem to have worn the brooch for quite a long time. It's possible that this brooch is the one mentioned in press reports just before the 1953 coronation, when the Queen Mother wore emeralds to attend a service at the Marlborough House chapel with her daughter and son-in-law: "The queen mother wore a dark mauve dress with diamond and emerald brooch at her left shoulder."

The Queen Mum often paired this brooch with purple-hued clothing, as well as outfits in shades of green and pink. When worn on dark purple backgrounds, as in the moving image above from Prince Harry's christening in December 1984, the emerald often photographs much darker, leading some to speculate that the Queen Mother owned an identical amethyst brooch. However, the GIF above shows the stone flashing green as she moves, making it clear that there's only one brooch, and it's set with an emerald.


In the later years of her life, the emerald brooch became one of the Queen Mother's most-worn jewels. In 1989, she wore the brooch during a visit to France commemorating the 45th anniversary of the D-Day landings.


Here's one more view of the brooch from that particular occasion, when the Queen Mum visited Bayeux Cathedral.


The Queen Mother also chose the brooch for several birthday celebrations late in her life. For her 95th birthday in August 1995, she pinned the brooch to a pastel green and pink ensemble.


For her 98th birthday celebrations in August 1998, she wore the brooch against an elegant ivory coat, a choice that made the details of the brooch show up vividly.


Perhaps the most prominent appearance for the brooch came in the summer of 2000, when she wore the brooch for a pair of celebrations marking her 100th birthday. Above, she wears the brooch with a lightly-patterned pink ensemble at a birthday pageant held in her honor in Horse Guards Parade. Press reports described her attire for the event as "a pink dress and matching floppy hat, a three-strand pearl necklace and a large emerald and diamond brooch."

Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

When the Queen Mother died in 2002, all of her jewelry, including this brooch, was inherited by her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II. Many of those pieces were later designated for the long-term use of the Duchess of Cornwall, including this brooch. Above, Camilla wears the brooch for the dedication of the Armed Forces Memorial in Lichfield in October 2007.