During a landmark visit to Ireland in the spring of 2011, the Queen debuted a brand-new jewel. Here’s a look at the story behind the Newgrange Brooch.
The Queen made her first state visit to the Republic of Ireland in May 2011. The visit was a triumph, allowing the Queen to make important gestures of reconciliation and allowing the Irish people to show her parts of their country as a visiting head of state. During the second day of the visit, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh arrived at the Convention Centre in Dublin for an evening of entertainment that showcased the best of Irish fashion, drama, music, and dance. For the concert, the Queen wore a silver brooch that she had received the day before from her host, President Mary McAleese of Ireland.
The unique, modern brooch was commissioned by President McAleese from an Irish jewelry designer, Declan Killen.
The piece features swirling designs engraved in polished sterling silver. The spirals are beautiful, but they’re also particularly meaningful. They’re inspired a famous triple-spiral (or “triskelion”) pattern, part of the prehistoric art carved on the entrance stone at the Newgrange monument in County Meath.
McAleese also gifted a matching pair of engraved silver cufflinks, also made by Declan Killen, to the Duke of Edinburgh. (These can currently be purchased from the jeweler’s website, along with other jewelry featuring the designs.)
Here’s a look at the Neolithic artwork that inspired the jewelry, on the entrance stone at Newgrange. The tomb, which predates Stonehenge, is considered to be one of the most important national sites in Ireland.
The Queen wore her new gift during the visit, but we haven’t seen her wear it in public again in the years since. As an official gift, it’s now part of the Royal Collection, and I imagine that we might see it again in the future at another Ireland-related event.