On Thursday, the Queen of Canada wore a familiar diamond brooch for an important audience. Here’s a closer look at the symbolic royal jewel.
Queen Elizabeth II had a video conference on Thursday with the new Governor General of Canada, Mary Simon. The Governor General is the Queen’s representative in Canada, carrying on the Government of Canada on behalf of the monarch. During the present Queen’s reign, nearly every Governor General has been a native-born Canadian. For years before that, though, aristocrats and royals held the post, including Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn (son of Queen Victoria) and Alexander Cambridge, 1st Earl of Athlone (brother of Queen Mary). Mary Simon, who becomes the Queen’s fourteenth Governor General today, is an experienced diplomat who previously served as Canada’s ambassador to Denmark. She’s also the first Indigenous GG, and much of her career has focused on advocating for Indigenous rights and causes.
For the virtual meeting, the Queen wore a brooch that features one of Canada’s most important national symbols: the Diamond Maple Leaf Brooch.
The Diamond Maple Leaf Brooch was made by Asprey in the late 1930s. King George VI presented it to his wife, Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother), just before they departed on a royal visit to Canada in the spring of 1939.
The Queen Mum loved the brooch, and she continued to wear the jewel often in the years after she received it. Above, she wears it in Winnipeg in June 1939 during the Canadian tour. She kept the brooch in her collection until the end of her long life.
The Queen inherited the brooch from her mother in 2002, and she’s worn it often for Canadian events ever since. Here, she wears it with a patriotic red and white ensemble for Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill in Ottawa in 2010.
The Queen also often loans the brooch to other members of the royal family embarking on trips to Canada. Here, the Duchess of Cornwall wears the brooch for a welcome ceremony during her first official visit to Canada in November 2009.
The Duchess of Cambridge has also worn the brooch on multiple occasions during tours of Canada. Above, in September 2016, she wears the brooch during an official welcome ceremony in British Columbia. (Kate’s collection also includes another Canadian jewel: a Polar Bear Brooch, given to her by the government of the Northwest Territories in 2011. She hasn’t worn it in public yet.)
The Queen’s collection includes other patriotic Canadian jewels as well. These include this eye-catching maple leaf brooch, made of diamonds, pearls, and colorful enamel. The Queen wore the brooch, which may have belonged to Queen Mary, in Halifax during a royal tour of Canada in June 2010.
She also often wears a modern Canadian brooch set with diamonds, Madagascar tourmalines, and a central freshwater pearl. This was a gift from the people of Saskatchewan, and it was made by Rachel Mielke of the Canadian jewelry firm Hillberg & Berk.
The Queen’s jewelry box also includes another Hillberg & Berk creation. This brooch, set with diamonds and rare Canadian sapphires, is designed to mimic a stylized snowflake. The piece was a Sapphire Jubilee gift from the people of Canada. It was presented to her at Canada House in London in 2017 by Governor General David Johnston.