Today, the Queen arrives in Scotland for Holyrood Week, her annual summer residence at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. What better time to survey some of the Scottish brooches in her royal jewelry collection? Here’s a look at several royal jewels with links to Scotland.
The Queen owns several diamond brooches with thistle designs. The thistle is the national flower of Scotland, used as a symbol of the nation since the thirteenth century. This brooch, which features three thistles rendered in diamonds, was worn by the Queen for Royal Ascot in June 2015.
The Queen also owns this lovely diamond and emerald thistle brooch, which features a carved amethyst in its design. Above, the Queen wears it for a garden party at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in July 2013. Many have speculated that one of the Queen’s thistle brooches might be part of a quartet of brooches featuring national symbols, given to the Queen by the Sultan of Oman as a Diamond Jubilee present in 2012. To me, this one shares intriguing design similarities with some of the other candidates, including the Diamond Daffodil Brooch, the Diamond Shamrock Brooch, and the Tudor Rose Brooch.
The Queen also has a brooch with a thistle and rose design, worn here at Buckingham Palace in May 2017, when she presented new colours to the 1st Battalion and and F Company Scots Guards.
The Queen’s collection also includes this large diamond thistle brooch, which belonged to Queen Mary. In June 2019, the Queen wore the brooch to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Scotland’s Parliament.
Twenty years earlier, in July 1999, the Queen wore another Scottish brooch for celebrations commemorating the establishment of Scotland’s independent parliament. This brooch, used here to secure the Queen’s plaid, is a traditional oban brooch, likely set in the center with a cairngorm, a type of smoky quartz found in Scotland’s Cairngorm Mountains.
In July 2016, for another visit to Scotland’s parliament, the Queen wore a royal brooch that resembles another Scottish symbol. This Cartier brooch, which was made for the Queen Mother in 1938, features a palm leaf design. The same design, based on traditional Indian textiles, became popular during the nineteenth century on fabrics woven in the Scottish town of Paisley—and, naturally, many have begun simply calling the pattern “paisley.”
In July 2019, the Queen debuted another brooch with a paisley theme. She wore this modern pink and black paisley brooch, with diamond accents, for a garden party at the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
One of the Queen’s most recognizable Scottish brooches is the Braemar Feather Brooch. The Braemar Royal Highland Society gave the mixed-metals brooch to the Queen as a Golden Jubilee gift in 2002, and she’s worn it for nearly every appearance at the Braemar Games since. Above, she wears it for the event in September 2008.
You’ll also often see the Queen sporting this bejeweled military badge during Holyrood Week. This is the badge of the Royal Regiment of Scotland; the Queen is the regiment’s Colonel-in-Chief. Above, in July 2017, she wears the badge for the traditional Ceremony of the Keys at the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
The Duchess of Cornwall—who, in Scotland, is the Duchess of Rothesay—also wears royal heirloom brooches with Scottish connections. In April 2005, only days after her wedding, Camilla wore the Pearl of the Dee Brooch for an engagement in Ballater. The brooch was commissioned by the Salmon and Trout Association in 1999 to mark the 100th birthday of their patron, the Queen Mother, the following year. Appropriately, it is designed to resemble a hand-tied salmon fly.
Camilla has also worn the Queen Mother’s Diamond Thistle Brooch on more than one occasion. Here, she wears the jewel during a tour of New Zealand in November 2015.