10 July 2018

Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna's Coronation Brooch

Princess Elisabeth wears the coronation brooch, May 2004 (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

When Princess Elisabeth of Denmark passed away last month, we chatted about one of her beautiful heirloom jewels: her diamond and sapphire tiara. But, given our focus on the Romanovs this month, it's only fair to peek once more into her jewelry collection to discuss a rare, spectacular jewel: the coronation brooch that belonged to her Russian great-grandmother, Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna.

Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna, ca. 1889 (Royal Collection/Wikimedia Commons)

Anastasia Mikhailovna was a first cousin of Emperor Alexander III; they were both grandchildren of Emperor Nicholas I. She was not-so-happily married to Grand Duke Friedrich Franz III of Mecklenburg-Schwerin -- both of their biographies are worth a read -- with whom she had three children, including the future Queen Alexandrine of Denmark.

Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna and Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna (the Elder) during the 1896 coronation festivities in Russia

In 1896, Anastasia Mikhailovna traveled to Russia with much of the rest of the imperial family to celebrate the coronation of the new tsar, Emperor Nicholas II. The new imperial couple commissioned brooches in the shape of the Russian imperial crown as gifts for the grand duchesses attending the festivities.

Princess Elisabeth wears the coronation brooch, May 2004 (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Here's a look at Anastasia Mikhailovna's brooch, which Bjarne Steen Jensen says was one of eighteen made. FabergĂ© constructed the brooch out of gold and set it with 137 diamonds, including two that measured more than 6 carats. You'll note here that the crown design is flanked by laurel, which represents victory.

Princess Elisabeth wears the coronation brooch, May 2004 (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Queen Alexandrine of Denmark, Anastasia Mikhailovna's eldest child, inherited the important brooch from her mother in 1922; in turn, she passed the jewel along to her younger son, Hereditary Prince Knud, when she died in 1952. His wife, Hereditary Princess Caroline-Mathilde, wore the brooch for years, eventually passing it along to her daughter, Princess Elisabeth. Now that Elisabeth too has passed away, the fate of this brooch hangs in the balance a bit. Will it be inherited by one of Elisabeth's nieces? Will she bequeath it (or any of her jewels) back to the main line of the royal family? We'll have to wait and see.