One of the best parts of royal jewelry is the longevity—getting to see jewels passed down from generation to generation, and worn in new and innovative ways along the way. We’ve seen royal women wearing this particular set of diamond jewels for more than a century. Here’s a closer look at the Argyll Diamond Daisies.
The daisies arrived in the royal family in 1871. That year, Princess Louise of the United Kingdom, the sixth child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, married a Scottish aristocrat, the Marquess of Lorne. Some members of the family, including the Prince of Wales, were against the idea of a royal princess marrying a commoner. But Queen Victoria supported her daughter, telling Bertie, “I feel certain [that the marriage] will be for Louise’s happiness and for the peace and quiet of the family.”
The wedding took place on March 21, 1871, at St. George’s Chapel on the grounds of Windsor Castle. Louise was escorted to the altar by her mother and her two eldest brothers, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Edinburgh. She became Princess Louise, Marchioness of Lorne on her marriage, and when her husband succeeded to the Argyll dukedom in 1900, she became Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll.
Louise’s wedding ensemble was perfectly fit for a Victorian princess. The Illustrated London News described the gown in detail: “The wedding dress of Princess Louise was of a rich white satin, covered with a deep flounce of Honiton point lace, trimmed with cordons of orange-blossoms, white heather, and myrtle, and a train of white satin, trimmed to correspond with the dress.”
Louise did not wear a tiara on her wedding day. Instead, she wore a wreath of orange blossoms and myrtle, and an elaborate veil of Honiton lace. But to secure the veil, she did add a few diamond ornaments. Papers explained that the veil was held in place “by two diamond pins in the form of daisies, the gift of their Royal Highnesses Prince Arthur, Prince Leopold, and Princess Beatrice.” (Arthur, Leopold, and Beatrice were Louise’s younger siblings.) In this portrait, you’ll see one of the diamond daisy hairpins positioned at the back of Louise’s head.
The rest of Louise’s wedding jewels included a diamond necklace with a sapphire, pearl, and diamond pendant, which was a wedding present from her new husband. She also wore three bracelets: an emerald and diamond bracelet, given to her by the Prince and Princess of Wales; a bracelet that had belonged to her late grandmother, the Duchess of Kent; and a bracelet given to her by the people of Windsor.
The two diamond daisy hairpins were part of a set of ornaments. The complete set also includes a larger diamond daisy brooch. All three jewels were made by Garrard, of diamonds set in gold. Louise kept the jewels for the rest of her long life, which included a memorable tenure in Canada, where her husband served as Governor General. Louise was widowed in 1914, after which she continued to be a close member of the royal family. She lived in Kensington Palace, and after her death, her apartment there, as well as the lion’s share of her possessions, were inherited by one of her great-nephews, Prince George, Duke of Kent.
The diamond daisies were among the jewelry pieces that the Duke and Duchess of Kent inherited. Princess Marina wore the daisies often, experimenting with their placement. She often used the smaller daisies as hairpins or brooches pinned to hats. She also wore the larger daisy as a brooch, as well as an enhancer on a multi-strand pearl necklace. Here, you’ll spot the daisy brooch pinned at her left shoulder in 1958, as she presented the Wimbledon trophy to American tennis player Althea Gibson.
Marina also often added a pearl drop to the daisy brooch. She wears the piece in this configuration above in June 1966 at Royal Ascot. During Marina’s lifetime, she also occasionally loaned the brooch to her daughter, Princess Alexandra. She wore it for several portraits, and she also wore it for the coronation of her cousin, Queen Elizabeth II, in 1953. But when Marina died in 1968, the daisies were bequeathed not to Alexandra but to her younger brother, Prince Michael of Kent.
Prince Michael’s wife, Marie Christine, has worn the daisies often since their marriage. Like Marina before her, she has also innovated with the jewels. For example, she has worn the two smaller daisies in her hair, but she has also worn them as earrings. In the summer of 2011, she used all three of the daisies, plus a diamond leaf brooch, to fashion an aigrette-style tiara. She wore the daisies in this configuration in July 2011 in Monaco for the reception following the wedding of Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene.