07 February 2021

The Queen Mother's Silver Anniversary Flower Brooch

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The Queen Mother's jewelry collection was extensive, but she definitely had favorite pieces that she wore throughout her long life. One of them was today's jewel, her Silver Anniversary Flower Brooch.

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In the spring of 1948, Britain marked a major royal milestone: the silver wedding anniversary of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. The post-war nation had just begun to hold big parties once more, with major celebrations a few months earlier for the wedding of Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh. In April 1948, the country commemorated the wedding anniversary of the King and Queen with a new stamp, designed by Joan Hassell. The stamp featured a new portrait of the royals, with the Queen wearing the Oriental Circlet and the Crown Rubies.

On April 26, 1948, 25 years after the couple had married in a ceremony at Westminster Abbey, the royal family participated in grand public celebrations of the wedding anniversary, including a special service of thanksgiving at St. Paul's Cathedral, a carriage procession through the streets of London, and a balcony appearance at Buckingham Palace. A luncheon for 70 guests was given in the palace's state dining room, during which the couple cut their silver wedding cake. Queen Elizabeth wore Queen Victoria's Diamond Fringe Brooch, pinned to the sash of the Order of the Garter, for the occasion. 

The following evening, the celebrations continued with a ball at the palace, where the King and the Queen danced the foxtrot with 1200 guests. (Queen Elizabeth wore the Oriental Circlet for the ball, too; Princess Elizabeth wore the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara, which she'd recently received as a wedding present from Queen Mary.) The dancing continued until three o'clock in the morning, and though the Tatler reported that the King often sat down to chat with the other guests, the Queen danced nearly every dance.

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For a series of portrait photographs taken by Baron to mark the royal wedding anniversary, Queen Elizabeth wore a diamond and emerald brooch in the shape of a tropical flower with a gold stem. The brooch was reportedly a gift from King George VI to celebrate their milestone anniversary.

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Queen Elizabeth certainly treasured the brooch, and she began wearing it very frequently in the months and years that followed. Above, she wears the flower brooch at the Oaks Stakes at Epsom Downs Racecourse in June 1948.

Later that year, on December 15, 1948, she wore it for a very special family moment: the christening of her first grandchild, Prince Charles, at Buckingham Palace.

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She wore the same brooch, this time with the Greville Emerald Earrings, for the christening of Princess Anne in the palace's Music Room on October 21, 1950.

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The brooch remained a favorite piece during the Queen Mother's long widowhood, which began in 1952 and lasted until her own death more than 50 years later. The size and design of the piece meant that it was appropriate for daytime occasions but sparkling enough for evening wear as well. Above, she wears it as she travels from London to the Sandringham estate in Norfolk in 1967.

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Here, in November 1960, she wears the brooch with diamond and pearl jewels—more specifically, the Greville Tiara, the Greville Peardrop Earrings, and Queen Alexandra's Wedding Necklace—as she cuts a cake during an anniversary celebration for a women's group in London.

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She wore the brooch with the Greville Emeralds on April 16, 1963, for a visit to the Tate Gallery in London.

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And she loved to wear the brooch at the races. Above, in June 1984, she wears the jewel at Royal Ascot, pairing it with pearls and her diamond floral earrings.

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The Queen Mum continued to wear the brooch until the final years of her long life. In 1997, she wore it to greet well-wishers outside Clarence House on her 97th birthday.

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Three years later, in June 2000, she wore it for the annual Epsom Derby. After her death two years later, her jewelry was inherited by her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II. Since then, pieces from her collection have been loaned to the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duchess of Cambridge and, of course, worn by the Queen herself. But I don't believe we've seen this brooch worn by anyone since the Queen Mother's passing. Here's hoping we see it emerge from the royal vaults sooner rather than later.