07 October 2018

The Teck Emperor of Austria Brooch

Queen Elizabeth II wears the Teck Emperor of Austria Brooch (CHRIS JACKSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Queen Elizabeth II's brooch collection is well stocked with pieces set with diamonds and pearls. But today's brooch, the Teck Emperor of Austria Brooch, also has a little something extra: a Habsburg imperial provenance.

Princess Mary Adelaide with her third child, Prince Francis of Teck, ca. 1870

The brooch arrived in the British royal collection via Queen Mary. It originally belonged to her mother, Princess Mary Adelaide, Duchess of Teck. The jewel was given to Mary Adelaide in 1870 by one of the most significant royal figures of the nineteenth century: Emperor Franz Josef of Austria-Hungary. The occasion? He served as a godparent to Mary Adelaide's third child, who had been christened Prince Francis Joseph Leopold Frederick of Teck in his godfather's honor.

Why was Franz Josef the godfather of the third child of minor royals from the W├╝rttemberg and British royal families? It may have something to do with the fact that Baby Francis's father, Prince Francis, Duke of Teck, was educated at an Austrian military academy and served with the Imperial Austrian Army in both the Austro-Sardinian and Austro-Prussian Wars. He retired from the Austrian army when he moved to England to marry Princess Mary Adelaide in 1866.

Sean Gallup/Getty Images

In The Queen's Diamonds, Hugh Roberts speculates that the brooch may have been made in England, regardless of its Austrian imperial origins. (He notes that "the Emperor of Austria was a Garrard client," though no evidence has been found that conclusively links the brooch to the firm.) Roberts describes the brooch as "a plaited circle, with pearl centre and 12 brilliants in cut-down collet settings around the edge, suspending a collet chain and three detachable baroque pearl pendants." The photograph above shows what the brooch looks like without the pendants and chain.

Princess Mary Adelaide wears the brooch, ca. 1880s

Mary Adelaide chose to wear the brooch on her bodice for a portrait by a German court photographer, Carl Jagerspacher, in the 1880s. For this occasion she paired the brooch with other pieces of pearl jewelry.

 A Vanity Fair caricature of Prince Francis by Leslie Ward, published July 1902 (Wikimedia Commons)

Roberts writes that the brooch was "almost certainly" one of the jewels that Prince Francis inherited from his mother in 1897. (It certainly would have made sense, given his personal connection to the jewel.) If so, it was probably one of the jewels that he bequeathed to his mistress, Lady Kilmorey. The jewels given to Lady Kilmorey also famously included the Cambridge emeralds; all of the pieces were carefully "retrieved" by Queen Mary and folded into her own collection. (You can read more about the emeralds and Queen Mary's retrieval scheme over here!)

Queen Elizabeth II wears the brooch in Prince Edward's first official photograph, taken at Buckingham Palace by Cecil Beaton, June 1964 (Image licensed to The Court Jeweller; do not reproduce)

The present Queen inherited the brooch from Queen Mary in 1953, and she has worn in throughout her reign. An important early appearance from the brooch came in 1964, when she wore it for the first official photographs of her fourth child, Prince Edward. The images were taken by Cecil Beaton in the Music Room at Buckingham Palace, and Prince Andrew is also featured, holding his baby brother's hand.

Claire Foy wears a replica of the brooch in The Crown (screencapture)

The moment was sort of recreated in the season two finale of The Crown. Claire Foy, playing Queen Elizabeth II, wears a replica of the brooch for an official family portrait featuring baby Prince Edward and numerous other members of the Windsor family. Many of the replica jewels from the series are so-so in quality, but this was an example where they basically nailed the recreated version of the brooch. (Our recap of the episode is here!)

Queen Elizabeth II wears the brooch during the American state banquet, May 2011 (CHRIS JACKSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Today, the Queen often wears this grand brooch on appropriately grand occasions. In May 2011, she paired it with the pearl setting of the Vladimir Tiara, Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee Necklace, and additional pearl and diamond jewels for a banquet during the American state visit.

Queen Elizabeth II wears the brooch for a state banquet in Germany, June 2015 (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

For a banquet during the 2015 state visit to Germany, the Queen used the brooch without its chain and pendants to secure the back of the sash of the Order of Merit. It was an appropriate choice; after all, the Tecks were originally members of the German House of W├╝rttemberg. She paired the brooch on this occasion with the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara and the Crown Ruby Suite.