30 September 2018

The Duchess of Teck's Flower Brooch

The Queen Mother wears the Duchess of Teck's Flower Brooch at Dover Castle (Wikimedia Commons)

When you look at old photographs of the Queen Mother, one piece of jewelry in particular crops up often among her daytime attire: a diamond flower brooch with four pendants and a detachable diamond chain. It was one of the Queen Mum's wedding gifts, but its history goes back even further than that.

An 1856 daguerreotype by Antoine Claudet of Queen Victoria with her aunt, Princess Mary, Duchess of Gloucster, and two of her children, the Prince of Wales and Princess Alice (Wikimedia Commons)

We know for sure that this brooch once belonged to Queen Mary's mother, Princess Mary Adelaide, Duchess of Teck. It's definitely a nineteenth-century creation, possibly created by Garrard. But Hugh Roberts speculates in The Queen's Diamonds that its history is even longer. He posits that the brooch once belonged to Princess Mary, Duchess of Gloucester.

Princess Mary Adelaide, Duchess of Teck depicted in a bejeweled portrait by Hermann Schmiechen, ca. 1882; Mary Adelaide's jewelry includes the Teck Ears of Wheat Tiara and the Teck Diamond Hoop Necklace (Wikimedia Commons)

Princess Mary was one of the fifteen children of King George III and Queen Charlotte. She married her first cousin, the Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh, in 1816. She didn't have any children of her own, but she was close to two of her royal nieces: Queen Victoria (the daughter of the Duke of Kent) and Princess Mary Adelaide, Duchess of Teck (the daughter of the Duke of Cambridge). When Princess Mary died in 1857, she bequeathed a collection of jewelry to Princess Mary Adelaide. We know for sure that the bequest included the Gloucester Pendant Earrings; if Roberts is correct, it may also have included this brooch.

Prince Adolphus of Teck and Lady Margaret Grosvenor on their wedding day; the bridesmaids were Lady Mary Grosvenor and Lady Helen Grosvenor (half-sisters of the bride), as well as four of the bride's nieces, Lady Constance Grosvenor, Lady Millicent Grosvenor, Lady Beatrice Butler, and the Hon. Lilah Cavendish

Regardless, the brooch was definitely in Princess Mary Adelaide's collection by the time of her death in 1897. The duchess died without a will, and her jewels were divided up among her children. This brooch was inherited by her eldest son, Prince Adolphus. (He would later inherit his father's title, becoming the Duke of Teck. After the outbreak of World War I, however, Adolphus renounced his German titles and was created the Marquess of Cambridge by his brother-in-law, King George V.)

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At some point, the brooch changed hands between the Teck children. By 1923, it was in the collection of Prince Adolphus's elder sister, Queen Mary. That year, she handed over the brooch to her second son, the Duke of York, so that he could give it to his new bride, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. The Yorks would eventually become King George VI and Queen Elizabeth; she would be better known later as the Queen Mother. The Queen Mum wore the brooch from the very start of her marriage, posing in the piece with her lotus flower tiara in the 1920s. You can see it positioned on the strap of her dress in the photograph above.

The Queen Mother wears the brooch at Dover Castle in Kent (Wikimedia Commons)

And she continued to wear the piece throughout her life. You can often spot it in photos, pinned high on her shoulder. Photographer Allan Warren snapped her wearing the brooch during an engagement at Dover Castle in Kent. You'll note that she's also wearing an additional badge (a backwards "s" bisected by an oar) below the brooch's central pendant.

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She also wore the brooch with her gala jewels at evening events, as she did during this trip to the theater in 1985. (You may notice that she's also wearing the Duchess of Cornwall's engagement ring.)


Near the end of her life, the Queen Mother's milestone birthdays were celebrated with public appearances. Above, she wears the brooch for the celebrations of her 89th birthday in August 1989.

When the Queen Mum died in 2002, her jewels were inherited by her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II. The brooch is in the Queen's collection today, but although Roberts says she has worn it "on occasions" since 2002, it seems that the only public appearance of the jewel so far has been in a portrait taken by her former brother-in-law, Lord Snowdon. Appropriately, the photograph was printed on the cover of the Radio Times issue celebrating the BBC's Diamond Jubilee documentary, The Diamond Queen. Nothing like a major heirloom diamond brooch to go along with the theme!

Note: This is an updated version of an earlier post, with new text