The Queen’s royal jewelry collection is full of lovely examples of midcentury design, including this charming 1940s ruby and diamond brooch.
There’s a little bit of uncertainty about this jewel’s provenance. Everyone seems to agree that it was one of the Queen’s wedding presents, offered to her when she married the Duke of Edinburgh in November 1947. The design certainly dates to that era. But exactly who presented her with the brooch is a matter of debate.
The piece could theoretically match the written description of two different gifts. The first, a present from the director of Garrard & Co., is described as “a ruby and diamond trellis gold brooch.” The second, a gift from the Principality of Monaco, is described as “a gold brooch set with diamonds and rubies in a trellised floral design.” Personally, I think the brooch we’re discussing today is the second of the two, the gift from the people of Monaco. It has a distinctive floral design. (The other brooch that could possibly fit the two descriptions—this one—is the gift from the head of Garrard, I believe.)
If this brooch, with its distinctive “trellised floral design,” is indeed the Monegasque gift, it was presented to the then-Princess Elizabeth at a morning audience at Buckingham Palace by Lady Diana Cooper on November 18, 1947. Lady Diana was the wife of Duff Cooper, the British Ambassador to France. She also presented Elizabeth with gifts from the city of Paris (a dressing case with tortoiseshell brushes and combs) and from the Free French Association (a clock).
The Queen has worn the brooch occasionally over the years. A prominent appearance, pictured here, came in Portsmouth in December 1997, when she wore the jewel for the decommissioning ceremony for the Royal Yacht Britannia. (This was the occasion when she famously wiped away tears during the ceremony.)
Here, in December 2000, she wears the brooch on a red coat with black accents for tea at Buckingham Palace with President Clinton and his family.
In May 2013, she wore the brooch with a pink tweed ensemble during a visit to Rosie Maternity Hospital in Cambridge.
And here, during a visit to the Royal Commonwealth Society in March 2014, the brooch picks up the gold tones in the Queen’s tweed jacket and hat.
HM has also worn the brooch for high-profile diplomatic occasions, like the welcome ceremony during the state visit from the President of Colombia in November 2016. On that occasion, she wore the brooch with a spring green ensemble.
But I think I like the brooch best when it’s worn with red, letting the rubies shine deeply. She wears the brooch here with a warm red coat and hat in February 2018 for a Sunday church service at West Newton in Norfolk.