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The Dutch royal jewel collection is one of the very best in Europe, stocked with both antique and modern pieces. Today’s jewel, Queen Sophie’s Strawberry Leaf Brooch, is one of the heirloom jewels in their royal vault.
The diamond and pearl strawberry leaf brooch dates to the first half of the nineteenth century. Its first known owner was Queen Sophie of the Netherlands, the German princess who was the first wife of King Willem III. In the portrait above, painted in the 1860s by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, Sophie wears the strawberry leaf brooch with its pearl pendant on the bodice of her gown.
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The brooch was later worn by subsequent Dutch royals, including Queen Wilhelmina and Queen Juliana. Princess Irene and Princess Margriet both wore the brooch in the 1960s, but the piece became especially associated with Princess Beatrix, who wore it on her wedding gown in March 1966.
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Beatrix wears the brooch both with and without its pearl pendant. Above, she wears the brooch alone during the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo in October 1964. That’s Crown Princess Michiko, the nation’s future empress, sitting beside her.
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She wore the pendant-less version of the brooch with the Pearl Button Tiara during a state banquet held in honor of Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg in April 2006.
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She also used the brooch without its pendant to secure her order sash on Prinsjesdag in 2008.
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More often, though, she wears the complete setting of the brooch. She paired it with the Antique Pearl Tiara in April 2001 during a state visit from President Ahmet Sezer of Turkey.
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During the Spanish state visit in October 2001, she pinned the brooch to the waist of her gown.
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You’ll note that she often wears the brooch with her wedding diadem, the Wurttemberg Ornate Pearl Tiara. She chose that combination for the grand royal wedding in Copenhagen in May 2004. This photo shows a particularly good side view of the brooch.
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The brooch is a part of the Dutch royal family’s jewel foundation, which means that it doesn’t belong to any single member of the family. It’s a nice solution that allows pieces to be worn by more than one royal woman. While Beatrix was still queen, Princess Maxima began wearing the brooch on occasion. She often prefers to wear the piece with the leaves pointed upward, as she did for gala dinner celebrating the 70th birthday of King Harald of Norway in February 2007.
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Queen Maxima chose the brooch for Prinsjesdag in September 2014, again wearing it with the leaves pointing upward.
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While she often favors the brooch for more formal occasions, she sometimes wears it for daytime events as well. In June 2015, she wore the brooch with the leaves pointing down for a solemn visit to Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.
But, as I said, Maxima isn’t the sole wearer of the brooch, even though she’s now the queen consort. The jewel foundation means that Princess Beatrix still takes the piece for a spin on occasion. In June 2014, she wore the brooch in Vienna for the wedding of Maxima’s younger brother, Juan Zorreguieta Cerruti.
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