The Platinum Jubilee celebrations are nearly upon us, and you knew we’d be joining in the festivities here at The Court Jeweller! Along with coverage of the events, we’re spending the next ten afternoons counting down ten of the Queen’s most magnificent platinum jewels. We’re kicking things off with one of the most important early platinum additions to her collection: the Flame Lily Brooch.
Back in the days when the Queen was still Princess Elizabeth—before her royal wedding and her accession—she joined her parents and her sister on a 1947 royal tour of countries in southern Africa. The tour coincided with Elizabeth’s 21st birthday, made extra memorable by a speech she delivered in Cape Town, broadcast to radio listeners across the Commonwealth. “I declare before you all,” she said, “that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.” She’s kept that promise for the last 75 years.
The princess’s birthday was also marked by several glittering presents. One of the most impressive was a diamond and platinum floral brooch presented to her in Zimbabwe (then Southern Rhodesia) on April 7, 1947. The brooch was in the shape of a Flame Lily, an important national symbol. Thousands of schoolchildren had contributed pocket change to help fund the creation of the brooch, which was made in Johannesburg.
The brooch quickly became one of Elizabeth’s favorite jewels, and she could be spotted wearing it frequently in the years after receiving the jewel. Here, she wears the brooch at the Metropolitan Police Horse Show in London in June 1948.
But it was an appearance four years later that made the brooch truly iconic. Elizabeth was in Kenya with her husband, Prince Philip, at the start of a lengthy Commonwealth tour in February 1952. The trip was cut short when her father, King George VI, suddenly died. The new Queen Elizabeth II returned directly to Britain, and when she stepped off the plane at the airport in London, the Flame Lily Brooch was pinned to her black coat. (I discussed the Flame Lily Brooch and the accession in significant detail in this earlier article.)
The new Queen continued to wear the brooch regularly in the months after her accession. In this photograph, taken in April 1952, she wears the brooch as she arrives to watch the Olympic Horse Trials at Badminton.
Seven decades later, the sparkling diamond and platinum brooch continues to be worn regularly by the Queen. It’s a favorite for springtime events, like this garden party at Buckingham Palace in May 2016.
One of the Queen’s most recent appearances in the brooch came in May 2019, when she wore the jewel for a visit to the Chelsea Flower Show. This summer, members of the public will be able to view the brooch as part of a special Platinum Jubilee exhibition at Windsor Castle.