This week, King Charles and Queen Camilla have been in Kenya on a state visit. The jewels have been subdued overall, but on Tuesday, Camilla wore a spectacular brooch with significant royal provenance.
King Charles III and Queen Camilla were officially welcomed at the state house in Nairobi on Tuesday at the start of their state visit to Kenya. They were received by the President of Kenya, Dr. William Ruto, and his wife, Rachel.
The royals carried out various engagements on Tuesday, including stops at the Eastlands Library, where they viewed the organization’s Camp Toyoyo exhibition, and at the Mashujaa Museum in Uhuru Gardens.
Queen Camilla wore a white dress for the first day of the Kenyan state visit, paired with a matching handbag and spectator pumps.
She accessorized with several familiar jewelry pieces, including her favorite diamond floral and pearl drop earrings and her usual necklaces and bracelets.
But she also pinned another special jewelry piece to her dress: a diamond and pearl brooch that has been worn by three generations of British royal women.
The jewel, which is known as the Courtauld Thomson Scallop-Shell Brooch, was made in in London by the Goldsmiths and Silversmiths Co., Ltd. It was designed in part by Sir Courtauld Thomson, who was the son of a famous Scottish inventor. His sister, the writer Winifred Hope Thomson, ended up with the piece.
Winifred left the brooch to Queen Elizabeth, better known to us later as the Queen Mother, in 1944. Sir Hugh Roberts notes that Thomson’s decision to leave the brooch to Elizabeth was made as “as a mark of respect and profound admiration.” The Queen Mother wore the brooch often throughout her long life, especially in her later years. Above, she wears the brooch on a very significant day: her hundredth birthday in 2000.
When the Queen Mum passed away in 2002, the brooch was one of many jewelry pieces inherited by her elder daughter, Queen Elizabeth II. The inheritance carried out Winifred Thomson’s explicit wish for the brooch to pass from queen to queen. Above, Queen Elizabeth II wears the brooch during the Spanish state visit to London in July 2017.
Elizabeth wore the brooch for a variety of different occasions, including the wedding of her eldest granddaughter, Zara Phillips, in Edinburgh in July 2011.
She also sometimes used the brooch on occasions of mourning and remembrance. Here, she wears the jewel for the funeral of the late Countess Mountbatten of Burma in London in June 2017.
Winifred Thomson’s wish was carried out once again in 2022, when the brooch passed from Queen Elizabeth II to King Charles III and Queen Camilla. We saw Camilla wear the jewel for the first time at Royal Ascot in June 2023.
And this week, she brought out the brooch again for a second wearing in Kenya. The piece is a true classic, able to be worn with a variety of outfits and on a wide range of occasions, so I think it’s safe to say that we’ll be seeing it often in the coming years as well.