The annual Commonwealth Day celebrations take place early next week, so we’re devoting space this weekend to some of the jewels given to the Queen by the people of two of the Commonwealth realms. First up: three brooches worn by the Queen of Australia during her 70-year reign.
In 1953-54, Queen Elizabeth II embarked on the first lengthy Commonwealth tour of her reign. The tour included a lengthy visit to Australia. There, the Queen was gifted the Australian Wattle Brooch, a fantastic jewel that has become one of her favorites. The eye-catching brooch, set with white and yellow diamonds, is designed to resemble the national flower of Australia, the wattle. Above, the Queen wears the brooch in March 1954 in Brisbane.
The Queen has worn the wattle brooch very often throughout her reign, both for events related to Australia and the Commonwealth and more generally. Here, in March 2000, she wears the brooch for an official welcoming ceremony in front of the Sydney Opera House.
And here, in October 2011, she wears the brooch in Canberra.
The Queen’s collection also includes another brooch designed to mimic an important Australian plant. In 1958, the people of Australia gave a ruby and diamond hibiscus brooch to the Queen Mother. The Queen Mum was delighted with the gift and wore it in Brisbane. Above, she’s pictured wearing the brooch in a very Australian image, showing her cuddling a little koala.
The Queen inherited the brooch from her mother in 2002, and she’s worn it for a range of occasions in the year since. Here, she wears the brooch for the Opening Ceremony for the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games in March 2006.
Perhaps the oldest Aussie brooch in the Queen’s collection is the Australian Opal Spray Brooch. The jewel was given to her by the Returned Sailors’, Soldiers’, and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia as a wedding gift in November 1947. Here, she wears the brooch as she signs the visitor’s book at Parliament House in Canberra in March 2000.
Appropriately, the Queen also wore the brooch for the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey in London in March 2016.
As a sidenote: sadly, we learned on Friday that the Queen will not be attending Monday’s Commonwealth Day service, due to continuing caution over travel and her personal comfort. (She’s reportedly been dealing with some mobility issues.) But we will see the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and Princess Alexandra at the service next week, and we’ll be covering the jewels worn by Camilla, Kate, and Alexandra here at TCJ as usual.