28 October 2018

The Women of Hampshire Brooch

Queen Elizabeth II wears the Women of Hampshire Brooch at the farewell ceremony during the Dutch state visit, October 2018 (CHRISTOPHER FURLONG/AFP/Getty Images)

Queen Mary's wedding presents included a number of important pieces of jewelry. We talk a whole lot about the magnificent tiaras that she received, but the gifts included other pieces as well. Today, we're looking at a lovely smaller piece from the collection of gifts: the Women of Hampshire Brooch.

Mary wears the brooch on her order sash for a portrait taken in Melbourne, May 1901

The brooch was one of the gifts given to Mary by a committee of women. This time, the group was made of women who lived in the county of Hampshire. The committee was chaired by an important aristocratic lady: Elizabeth Wellesley, the Dowager Duchess of Wellington.

Elizabeth Wellesley, Duchess of Wellington, ca. 1861 (Wikimedia Commons)

Elizabeth was the daughter of a marquess and the daughter-in-law of the famous 1st Duke of Wellington, the hero of the Battle of Waterloo. She also served as Queen Victoria's Mistress of the Robes, so she was used to moving in royal circles. The committee selected a piece of diamond and pearl jewelry with a floral motif from Garrard for the present.

Christopher Furlong - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Initially, the piece was designed to be worn as a pendant on a necklace, but Mary later had it converted so that it could be worn as a brooch. It has a distinctive shape with three pendant stones: two pear-shaped diamonds and a large pear-shaped pearl.

Queen Mary wears the brooch at Princess Anne's christening

Mary often wore her brooches, including this one, pinned at her throat. That's precisely how she wore it for the christening of her great-granddaughter, the Princess Royal, in 1950.

Queen Elizabeth II wears the brooch for a reception at Buckingham Palace, July 2010 (Anthony Devlin/WPA Pool/Getty Images)

The brooch was among the jewels inherited by the present Queen when her grandmother, Queen Mary, died in 1953. Since then, it's become part of the Queen's daytime brooch rota, popping up now and again at various royal engagements.

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