March is the month to celebrate the Commonwealth of Nations, with Commonwealth Day falling on the second Monday of the month. As we look forward to this year’s service at Westminster Abbey (which will be held next Monday), let’s look back at the late Queen Elizabeth II’s final appearance at the event—and the sparkling star brooch she wore.
The Queen arrived at Westminster Abbey in London to attend the annual Commonwealth Day service on March 9, 2020. The event, notably, was one of the last major royal occasions before the start of the pandemic.
The Queen attended without the Duke of Edinburgh, who had by that time retired from royal duties. Instead, she was joined in the front row by the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. (You can read more about their jewels, and all of the other royal jewels present for the service, in our article from the event.)
After the service, the Queen was introduced to many of the performers and participants who had taken part in the event.
Here, she chats with the British boxer Anthony Joshua, who delivered a moving speech about his family’s Nigerian roots during the service.
For the occasion, the Queen looked forward to spring in a light blue coat dress. Her matching hat was trimmed with blue, orange, and black feathers, and she wore black accessories (shoes, handbag, and gloves).
She wore her trademark daytime jewels with the ensemble: pearl earrings, pearl necklace, and brooch. The pearl and diamond button earrings, her favorites for day events, originally belonged to Queen Mary. The three-stranded necklace is strung with family pearls. It was a mainstay in her jewelry collection for seven decades.
The Queen always chose her brooches herself, usually from a selection offered by her dresser and personal assistant, Angela Kelly. For this service, she selected the Jardine Star Brooch. The jewel is an antique diamond star brooch, a design that was particularly popular in the nineteenth century. Princess Anne even has a very similar star brooch in her personal collection.
Leslie Field tells us that the Queen inherited the brooch from a Lady Jardine (though she doesn’t specify which one) in the early 1980s. It was one of HM’s very favorite brooches, worn on numerous occasions throughout the later years of her reign, including more than one Commonwealth Day service.
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