04 August 2019

The Dacre Brooch

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Today's royal brooch is something of a hybrid piece: a beautiful jewel that was also formerly given as an annual prize. Here's a closer look at the Dacre Brooch.

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The brooch, which is set with diamonds and other gemstones, was traditionally presented each year to the best female cadet. That tradition began in 1982, the year that women were first admitted to the Air Cadets, and continued until 2015. It was decided that the best female cadet should, like her male counterpart, instead receive the Dacre Sword.

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The brooch is named in honor of the late Air Commodore G.B. Dacre and his wife, Elizabeth, who presented it to the Air Cadets in 1982. Newspapers interviewed the last female Air Cadet to wear the brooch. She noted, "It is quite an honour. I was the last cadet to wear it, and now she is wearing it. It is the best accessory."

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The "she" referenced in that quotation is the Duchess of Cambridge. The brooch was presented to Kate by the Air Cadets after she was appointed as their newest patron, a role that was passed along to her by the Duke of Edinburgh. Papers reported that the brooch had been given to Kate, but I'm not sure whether it was offered to her as a personal gift or presented to her to wear during her tenure as the organization's patron.


The Duchess of Cambridge performed her first official engagement as the Honorary Air Commandant of the Air Cadets in February 2016, attending a service to mark the organization's 75th anniversary. She wore the brooch pinned to a blue Alexander McQueen coat.

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In July 2018, Kate wore the brooch publicly again, this time for a service at Westminster Abbey to celebrate the centenary of the Royal Air Force.

Note: This is an updated and expanded version of an earlier post.