The Queen celebrates a remarkable birthday tomorrow: she turns 96 years old. I always like to add a little bejeweled spin to the festivities, so this morning, this afternoon, and tomorrow morning, we’re going to be surveying 96 brooches from her collection. Enjoy the first part of this little tour through the Queen’s brooches—and know that this selection isn’t even close to all of them!
1. The Jardinière Brooch
When she was Princess Elizabeth, the Queen’s jewelry box was filled with little colorful floral baubles. One of these was a jardinière brooch, described by Leslie Field as a “small Art Deco platinum and diamond basket brooch overflowing with cabochon ruby berries, carved pale Indian emerald leaves and sapphire flowers.” It is similar to the Queen’s Flower Basket Brooch, but it can be easily distinguished because it lacks a top basket handle. The Queen received the jewel from her parents as a birthday present in 1941, when she turned 15. Above, she wears it while cycling during a family photo session at Windsor with photographer Lisa Sheridan in April 1942.
2. The Queen Mother’s Art Deco Leaf Brooch
This multi-gem leaf brooch was made by Cartier in 1928 and given by the Duke of York (King George VI) to his wife (Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother). Later, she passed it on to Princess Elizabeth as a birthday present during the war. (Many of the jewels received by the princess in the early ’40s were hand-me-down gifts from relatives, understandably.) Here, she wears the jewel in April 1951 on her arrival back in London after an official visit to Italy.
This matched pair of diamond and aquamarine clip brooches, which were made by Boucheron, were Elizabeth’s 18th birthday gift from her parents in April 1944. They had been commissioned 10 years earlier from the jeweler by her uncle, the Duke of Kent. The Queen often wears them on significant dates, especially anniversaries connected to her father’s memory. Here, in February 2022, she wears them as she celebrates her Platinum Jubilee—which, of course, is also the 70th anniversary of her father’s passing.
This classic diamond brooch, featuring a wild rose among leaves and other blossoms and buds, was given to Elizabeth when she launched the HMS Vanguard in December 1944. The Liverpool Daily Post reported that the 18-year-old princess launched “the greatest battleship ever built in the British Isles,” adding that the “great naval occasion was the first important public duty the Princess has carried out alone.” The reporter also noted, “The Princess was given a diamond brooch fashioned as the rose of England for a souvenir. ‘This will always serve to remind me that the first important public duty I ever undertook was a naval occasion,’ she said.” She wore it often in her younger years, and she recently brought it out of the vaults for a rare public appearance. Here, she wears it at the Exhibition of Two Centuries of Humorous Art in London in June 1951.
5. The Sapphire and Ruby Floral Brooch
In April 1945, Princess Elizabeth’s parents celebrated her birthday by giving her this floral Cartier brooch set with rubies and blue and pink sapphires. Leslie Field tells us that the brooch has a matching pair of earrings, perhaps the ones worn here. This photograph was taken in January 1948, as Elizabeth helped to assemble food packages for pensioners.
One of the most recognizable of the Queen’s early jewels, this diamond and sapphire chrysanthemum brooch was given to her in 1946 when she launched an oil tanker, appropriately named the British Princess. She famously wore it for a portrait session during her honeymoon at Broadlands in November 1947. This photograph of Elizabeth wearing the brooch was taken in 1951.
This diamond lily brooch, presented to the Queen in 1947 on behalf of the children of Zimbabwe, made history when she wore it for her arrival back in London immediately following her accession to the throne in 1952. In more recent years, the brooch has remained a royal favorite, appearing often at spring occasions like the Chelsea Flower Show and Royal Ascot. Here, she wears the jewel at the Metropolitan Police Horse Show in London in June 1948.
During the same royal tour of several African nations, Princess Elizabeth turned 21. Her parents came prepared with a gift: a pair of delicate diamond ivy leaf clips. The brooches were part of the bequest left to the Queen Mother by Dame Margaret Greville in 1942. The Queen continues to wear them on occasion today. Here, she wears them in a formal portrait with Princess Anne and Prince Charles, taken in 1951.
This timeless brooch is shaped like a clematis flower, with all six petals encrusted in diamonds. The jewel has been in the Queen’s collection since the spring of 1947, and she memorably wore it for her official engagement photos that July. It looks just as current now as it did seven decades ago. Here, she wears the brooch in May 1947.
This classic diamond lily brooch was presented to the then-Princess Elizabeth in 1947 when she received the Freedom of the City of London. She’s worn it regularly in the seven decades since, especially for spring occasions like garden parties, Easter Sunday, and Royal Ascot. The brooch also made a very prominent appearance in 2002, when the Queen wore it for the service of thanksgiving at St. Paul’s in celebration of her Golden Jubilee. In the photograph above, she wears the brooch at Royal Ascot in June 2009.
Made by Carrington in 1893, this substantial diamond bow brooch was Queen Mary’s wedding gift from the County of Dorset. In turn, Mary gave it to her granddaughter, the present Queen, as a wedding gift in November 1947. It’s been one of the Queen’s most-worn brooches ever since, witnessing more than seven decades of royal history. Here, Elizabeth wears it on a windy day in July 1951, as she arrives at Westminster Abbey for the wedding of Lady Caroline Montagu-Douglas-Scott and Ian Bedworth Gilmour.
12. Queen Mary’s Diamond Stomacher
Queen Mary’s wedding gifts to Elizabeth also included this intricate, romantic diamond stomacher, which can be divided into three, with the separate sections able to be worn as brooches. Queen Mary commissioned it in 1920, using diamonds sourced from two of her dismantled wedding presents (the Kapurthala Stomacher and the Swansea Crescent Brooch). Elizabeth has worn the entire piece on occasion (notably at a dinner party in 2002 to celebrate her Golden Jubilee), but she has more often worn parts of the piece separately as brooches. Above, she wears the bottom section alone as a brooch in Canada in June 1959.
This delicate butterfly brooch, which is studded with diamonds and rubies, was the Queen’s wedding gift from Violet, the Dowager Countess of Onslow in November 1947. (Side note of interest: Violet comes from the family that originally owned the Poltimore Tiara!) The Queen has worn the butterfly brooch with increasing frequency in recent years. Above, she wears it in a message recorded for the COP26 meeting in Scotland in 2021.
14. The Jewellers and Silversmiths Brooch
This gold, diamond, and ruby brooch was the Queen’s wedding gift from the Jewellers and Silversmiths of Great Britain in November 1947. She’s been wearing it regularly for more than 70 years, with frequent appearances at church services, including one outing at the Royal Maundy service, and even one Christmas Broadcast in the early ’90s. Here, she wears it in October 2010 for a visit from the Emir of Qatar to Windsor.
This gorgeous diamond and sapphire feather brooch was one of the wedding gifts received by the Queen in November 1947, given to her by the firm that made it, Carrington. Rather than a deep royal blue, the sapphire is distinctly blue-violet in hue. The Queen has worn it regularly during the seven decades since she received it. Here, she wears it in April 2006 to celebrate the anniversary of the BBC’s Royal Charter.
This brooch, made of gold, diamonds, and Australian black opals, was one of the Queen’s wedding gifts in November 1947. It was presented to her by the Returned Sailors’, Soldiers’, and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia, and fittingly, it made a prominent appearance at the annual Commonwealth Day service in 2016 (pictured above). The Queen also wears the colorful brooch more generally.
This brooch, which features a quintet of diamond and ruby leaves attached to a waving, net-like golden trellis, was yet another of the wedding gifts presented to the then-Princess Elizabeth in November 1947. It has featured regularly in her brooch wardrobe ever since, often at palace audiences. In this photograph, taken in December 2016, she wears the brooch for a visit to Goodenough College in London.
In November 1947, the Nizam of Hyderabad presented the Queen with a suite of diamond jewelry from Cartier as a wedding present. The set included a tiara, which was later dismantled; these diamond rose brooches are all that remain from the tiara’s previous design. The Queen most often wears the largest of the three. She wears the large brooch here on Ladies’ Day at Epsom Downs Racecourse in June 1954.
The Queen does also occasionally wear the smaller two rose brooches from the Nizam of Hyderabad Tiara, usually together as a pair. Here, she wears the brooches as embellishments on the neckline of her gown on the balcony of Government House in Melbourne, during her tour of Australia in March 1954.
The accepted wisdom about this lovely floral brooch is that it was given to the Queen in 1948 by her parents. (She does appear to have worn it in public at least once many years earlier.) It was a present to mark the birth of her first child, Prince Charles. The Queen, then still Princess Elizabeth, wore the brooch for Charles’s first official photograph (pictured above). She’s worn it regularly since, including a sentimental appearance at the christening of Prince George, Charles’s first grandson, in 2013.
This classic diamond brooch, which is an heirloom of the crown, was made by Rundell, Bridge, and Co. in 1831 for Queen Adelaide, the wife of King William IV. Originally intended as a clasp for a pearl necklace, the piece has been worn as a brooch by every queen since. The present Queen made waves when she wore the brooch for the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics—and the James Bond film that preceded her appearance. Here, she wears the brooch for President Eisenhower’s visit to Balmoral in September 1959.
This brooch, which features diamond-set scrolls and sunrays in its design, is part of a suite of amethyst jewels that once belonged to Princess Viktoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, better known to history as the Duchess of Kent (and the mother of Queen Victoria). The entire set was designated as an heirloom of the crown by Queen Victoria. Three small loops at the base of the brooch allow a trio of petite diamond and amethyst pendants to be suspended from the bottom of the piece. However, the Queen usually wears the brooch without these pendant drops. On occasion, though—such as this appearance at Arlington National Cemetery in 1991—the Queen wears the complete jewel.
In 1840, Prince Albert presented Queen Victoria with this gorgeous sapphire and diamond cluster brooch on the night before her wedding. She pinned it to her wedding gown the next day, and it’s been with the main line of the royal family ever since. The Queen received this brooch with the rest of the crown heirloom collection in 1952 when she ascended to the throne, and she wears it regularly. Here, she wears the brooch for a garden party at Balmoral Castle in Scotland in August 2012.
This set of three diamond bow-shaped brooches was also created in 1858 to replace jewels lost to the King of Hanover. Because they are heirlooms of the crown, they passed from Victoria to Alexandra to Mary to Elizabeth to Elizabeth II, arriving in the Queen’s jewelry box in 1952. She still wears them today, though generally only one at a time. (Queen Mary, being Queen Mary, liked to wear all three together.) Here, the Queen wears one of the brooches at an agricultural fair in Norwich in July 1957. (That’s a badge from the fair placed below the brooch.)
25. Queen Victoria’s Ears of Wheat Brooches
Queen Victoria also included “six brooches with wheat leaf design” in her heirlooms of the crown collection. The diamonds in the brooches date to the reign of King George III. The Queen has used the jewels as brooches, and she also occasionally wears them as ornaments in her hair. (Princess Eugenie borrowed them to use as hair accessories for her wedding reception in October 2018.) Here, the Queen wears two of the wheat ears as brooches in November 2010 for a reception at the ambassador’s residence in Muscat during her visit to Oman.
This classic diamond flower brooch features one of the rarest flawless pink diamonds in the world, given to the Queen as a wedding present by a Canadian gemologist in 1947. Cartier finished the surrounding brooch during the coronation year of 1953, and the Queen has been wearing the spectacular piece regularly ever since. She’s selected it for important portraits, major diplomatic visits, and two of her children’s weddings. Here, she wears the brooch for another wedding: the 1954 nuptials of Viscount Althorp (later Earl Spencer) and Frances Roche, parents of Diana, Princess of Wales.
The Queen inherited this spectacular diamond brooch from her grandmother, Queen Mary, in 1953. The diamonds were part of the grand Cullinan stone given to King Edward VII in 1907, and the brooch was constructed by Carrington in 1911. Because the original stone was cut by a Dutch jeweler, the Queen often chooses this for occasions related to the Netherlands, including the Dutch state banquet in 2018. Here, she wears the brooch in Amsterdam during her state visit to the Netherlands in March 1958.
This magnificent diamond brooch features a distinctive heart-shaped diamond. That 18.8-carat stone, the Cullinan V, was one of the major diamonds that resulted from the cutting of the massive Cullinan Diamond. The stone is usually worn in this brooch setting, but was originally designed to be used in other jewels as well, including the Delhi Durbar stomacher and Queen Mary’s Honeysuckle Tiara. Queen Mary wore it in her coronet for her son’s coronation in 1937, but today, it remains in its brooch setting, worn frequently by the Queen, who inherited it in 1953. Here, she wears the brooch in August 1958 as she watches the Duke of Edinburgh play in a cricket match at Highclere Castle.
The design of the Cullinan V Brooch is mimicked in the top portion of this brooch as well. Like the previous two, the Queen inherited this brooch from Queen Mary in 1953. The top stone in this brooch is the Cullinan VIII, a 6.8-carat cushion-cut diamond. The pendant is the Cullinan VI, an 11.5-carat marquise-cut diamond. Here, the Queen wears the brooch for a reception at Windsor Castle in April 2019.
The Queen’s grand 1953 jewelry inheritance from Queen Mary also included her amazing royal emeralds. Among them was the Ladies of India Brooch, which was given to Mary by a committee called the Ladies of India (hence the name) during the Delhi Durbar of 1911. The large emerald is carved on both sides, with a rose on one side and additional floral designs on the other. The jewel is set in silver and gold, with a diamond border and four additional diamond brilliant accents. Here, the Queen wears the brooch at Buckingham Palace in November 2011.
The Delhi Durbar emerald parure also includes an enormous stomacher, which can be taken apart and worn in sections. The Queen generally wears just this portion of the piece, a diamond and emerald scroll brooch with an emerald pendant drop, as a brooch. Here, she wears the scroll brooch during the Portuguese state visit to the United Kingdom in November 1978.
This classic brooch also comes from Queen Mary’s Cambridge emerald collection. The piece features a round cabochon emerald set in a double cluster of diamonds, with one of the emerald drops from the suite suspended as a pendant. The jewel can be worn with or without the pendant, and in recent years, the Queen has often chosen to wear the cluster portion alone. Here, she wears the complete brooch in October 2005 as she tours the site of the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Stay tuned for more of the Queen’s royal brooch collection this afternoon!