Today, the Princess Royal celebrates her 71st birthday. To mark the occasion, I’ve got a closer look at one of my favorite pieces from her royal jewelry box: her antique diamond star brooch.
The brooch has been in Princess Anne’s jewelry collection for more than half a century. She began wearing it around 1970, the year she turned 20. Above, she is pictured wearing the brooch pinned to a dark green and white evening gown, worn in May 1970 for a banquet at the Goldsmith’s Hall in London celebrating the bicentenary of Spode. She wore the brooch with Princess Andrew’s Meander Tiara and a necklace with a sparkling pendant.
The brooch is designed as a six-pointed star. One of the star’s points is slightly longer than the others. Six diamond brilliants are arranged around the star on a knife’s edge setting. A second six-pointed star is mounted atop the main portion of the brooch, with a diamond brilliant set in its center. To my knowledge, the provenance of Anne’s star brooch has never been revealed, but its design is typical of pieces from the Victorian era.
The Queen owns a similar piece, the Jardine Star Brooch, though there are some noted differences in design. The Jardine brooch is an eight-pointed star, with slimmer rays and even points. It also has eight knife edge-set diamonds, and a different cluster setting for the central brilliant. The Jardine brooch is also said to be an antique from the nineteenth century, though Leslie Field states that the brooch didn’t arrive in the Queen’s collection until the early 1980s. If that’s the case, Anne has had her star brooch longer than her mother has had hers.
From the start, Anne has mostly reserved the star brooch for more formal occasions. Above, in June 1971, she wears the brooch for a visit to the Béjart Ballet, pairing the star with the earrings from her Diamond Festoon Suite.
A year later, in October 1972, she wore the brooch with Princess Andrew’s Meander Tiara and additional diamonds from her jewelry box during a visit to Belgrade. (She’s using it here to secure the Order of the Yugoslav Flag, a now-defunct order of chivalry from Yugoslavia.)
The star brooch anchored the sash of Anne’s Luxembourgish order, the Order of the Oak Crown, for a dinner at Claridge’s during a state visit from Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duchess Josephine Charlotte of Luxembourg in June 1973. She wore the brooch with the Cartier Halo Tiara and her Diamond Festoon Suite.
Anne often likes to pair the brooch with another spectacular piece from her jewelry box: Empress Marie Feodorovna’s Pearl and Sapphire Choker Necklace. Queen Mary bought the necklace from the late Russian empress’s estate and bequeathed it to the Queen in 1953. Anne has been exclusively wearing the necklace for decades. Above, she pairs the choker and the star brooch together in Sydney in July 2000.
She wore the same combination of jewels for an awards ceremony at the Landmark Hotel in London in April 2007. She wore the choker and the brooch, plus a pair of pearl drop earrings, with a dazzling dress covered in sequins and beads.
You’ll often be able to spot the star brooch at one particular annual event: the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall in London, held each November ahead of Remembrance Sunday. Anne often wears the star brooch with her paper poppies for the evening. You’ll just see the points of the star sticking out from this appearance in November 2016.