On Monday, the royal world said farewell to Archduchess Margherita of Austria-Este, the Italian princess who married a son of the last Emperor of Austria. Today, to celebrate her life, we’ve got a look at her impressive bejeweled legacy.
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Several years ago, I answered a reader question here about the brooches that the Queen wore during the mourning period for Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997. I’m still frequently sent questions about royal mourning jewels—what’s considered appropriate for mourning in the modern world, how the pieces are chosen, etc. As you can imagine, many of those same questions have been asked over the past week. In older days (for example, during the reign of Queen Victoria) there were stricter guidelines available for mourning clothes and jewelry. (Blacks, grays, mauves, lots of jet.) In our time, jewels for mourning are selected on a more personal and individual basis, but there are still some general ideas that seem to be followed.
Today, as the royal family gathers for the funeral of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, we will see royal mourning jewelry in the world’s spotlight once more. I won’t be sharing speculation here about the jewelry that the Queen and the other royals will or won’t wear for the funeral. (It’s not a fashion moment.) But I thought I would show some of the jewelry choices that the Queen has made in the past for the many funerals and memorials she’s attended over the course of her reign, particularly those in more recent years, to give you an idea of the way that she handles these moments from a jewelry perspective.
The general idea: “white” jewels, mostly diamonds and pearls, worn on dark (or occasionally white) clothing. The Queen tends to choose diamond and pearl brooches with classic shapes and design themes, often with ribbon or floral motifs. These jewels are not meant to grab the spotlight or draw the eye. Instead, they are worn as part of mourning attire: good clothing worn well as a way to honor the dead, in tones that help to remind the rest of the living that the mourners are engaged in a period of quiet reflection and grief. (Mourning clothes, including the armbands sometimes worn by men, have always been designed as visible signals to other living people, as a way to show them that the person wearing the clothes is participating in a period of mourning, so that they will be treated accordingly.) The same guidelines are generally also followed for other solemn occasions of memorial and remembrance, including the annual Remembrance Sunday commemorations and similar events.
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On September 5, 1979, the royal family gathered at Westminster Abbey for the funeral of Lord Mountbatten. To honor this beloved royal uncle and cousin, the Queen wore one of her oldest royal heirloom brooches: the Duchess of Cambridge’s Pearl Pendant Brooch. The diamond and pearl brooch first belonged to Princess Augusta, Duchess of Cambridge (a daughter-in-law of King George III). Queen Mary inherited the brooch from her mother, the Duchess of Teck, and then bequeathed it to the Queen in 1953.
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Exactly 18 years later, the Queen was in mourning once more. On September 5, 1997, she met with those who had gathered outside St. James’s Palace to mourn Diana, Princess of Wales. For this public appearance, her first since departing from Balmoral with her grandsons to return to London, she chose the Pearl Triangle Brooch. This long, elegant brooch is set with pearls and diamonds, including a single diamond in a pale shade of canary yellow. She also wore the brooch for her televised address to the nation the same day, during which she spoke to the people “as a grandmother” as well as a monarch.
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The next day, September 6, 1997, the Queen arrived with the rest of the royal family for Diana’s funeral at Westminster Abbey. She chose a Victorian heirloom for the service, wearing one of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Bow Brooches. The brooch is part of a trio made for Victoria in 1858, all of which were later designated as heirlooms of the crown. The Queen Mother also wore a brooch from the same era: Queen Victoria’s Pearl and Diamond Brooch.
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On February 15, 2002, the Queen and the royals attended Princess Margaret’s funeral at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor. She wore the all-diamond City of London Lily Brooch, which she was given when she received the Freedom of the City of London in June 1947. Princess Margaret attended that 1947 ceremony at her sister’s side.
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The Queen Mother passed away at the remarkable age of 101 in March 2002. The royal family celebrated her legacy in a series of public memorials. Her body lay in state in Westminster Hall before her funeral. The Queen wore the Dorset Bow Brooch, a legacy from Queen Mary, as the coffin was placed there on April 5, 2002.
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For the Queen Mother’s funeral at Westminster Abbey, held on April 9, 2002, the Queen wore another heirloom from Queen Mary: the Kensington Bow Brooch. The classic diamond bow brooch features a single pearl pendant.
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On November 5, 2004, the Queen and the royals said farewell to another exceptionally long-lived royal lady: Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, who died at the age of 102. The Queen wore the Pearl Trefoil Brooch, which is set with diamonds and pearls, for her aunt’s funeral at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor.
A few weeks later, the royals gathered again at St. George’s Chapel for another family funeral. This time, they celebrated the life of Sir Angus Ogilvy, the late husband of Princess Alexandra. The Queen wore her City of London Lily Brooch for the funeral, which was held on January 5, 2005.
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On April 17, 2013, the Queen and the Duke attended the large ceremonial funeral at St. Paul’s Cathedral for the late Baroness Thatcher, the former prime minister. The Queen wore one of Queen Victoria’s Bow Brooches for the service.
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For a service of thanksgiving for the life and work of the Queen’s late former brother-in-law, Lord Snowdon, at Westminster Abbey on April 7, 2017, she chose another traditional mourning color: purple. (Purple and mauve clothing and gems were often used for transitional “half-mourning” attire in Victorian times. This service of thanksgiving was held several months after Lord Snowdon’s passing; his private funeral had taken place in Wales in January.) She wore one of her Amethyst Floral Brooches for the service.
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The Queen and the Duke joined other members of the extended family for the funeral of Patricia Knatchbull, Countess Mountbatten of Burma, at St. Paul’s, Knightsbridge on June 27, 2017. For this family service, the Queen wore another diamond and pearl brooch: the Courtauld Thomson Scallop-Shell Brooch, which she had inherited from the Queen Mother in 2002.
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More recently, the Queen wore mourning attire and jewels for an important ceremonial anniversary. She traveled on November 4, 2020, to Westminster Abbey, where a replica of her bridal bouquet was placed on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior. The symbolic gesture was part of the centennial commemorations of the unknown soldier’s burial in the Abbey. The Queen wore the all-diamond Jardine Star Brooch for the quiet moment of remembrance.
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For the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral, held today at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor, the Queen wore an heirloom from Queen Mary. The Richmond Brooch was Queen Mary’s wedding gift from the town of Richmond, where she had spent much of her childhood. The 1893 brooch can also be worn with a pearl pendant, though the Queen wore it without the pendant for today’s funeral. The brooch’s most recent high-profile appearance came at the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s wedding in 2018.
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The Duchess of Cornwall chose a military jewel with great significance. The brooch is in the shape of the cap badge of The Rifles. In July 2020, she officially became their Colonel-in-Chief, taking over a role held by the Duke of Edinburgh for 67 years.
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The Duchess of Cambridge also wore jewelry with royal provenance. Both pieces are loans from the Queen. The Bahrain Pearl Drop Earrings were made using pearls given to the Queen as a wedding present by the Hakim of Bahrain in 1947. The Japanese Pearl Choker Necklace was made for the Queen by Garrard, reportedly using pearls given to her by the Japanese government in the 1970s.
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The Countess of Wessex wore her small diamond brooch of interlocking hearts. The jewel was a gift from her husband to mark their first wedding anniversary in 2000.
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The Earl and Countess of Wessex’s daughter, Lady Louise, wore a cross pendant and a delicate brooch. You’ll note that the brooch’s design, which features a horse’s head and a curled whip, is a tribute to one of the hobbies Louise shared with her grandfather: carriage driving.
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As you may have expected, our regular afternoon and evening posts here are being suspended today following the news of the death of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, at the age of 99. Born Prince Philippos of Greece and Denmark, he married the future Queen Elizabeth II in November 1947. They enjoyed 73 years of marriage, raised four children, and welcomed eight grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren to their family.
What you may not know is that Prince Philip, like another famous prince consort before him, was very interested in the world of jewelry design. He had a hand in the creation of several pieces from the Queen’s collection. We’ll never know how many jewels he gave her over seven decades of marriage, but here’s a closer look at several pieces that we know he helped design and acquire for Her Majesty.
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To celebrate his engagement to Princess Elizabeth, Philip turned to one of Lord Mountbatten’s favorite jewelry firms, Philip Antrobus, to design an engagement ring. The diamonds set in the platinum ring were taken from a tiara that belonged to his mother, Princess Alice; it had been her wedding present from the last Emperor and Empress of Russia. The central stone of the ring measures in at three carats, with five smaller stones set on either side. Philip gave the ring to Elizabeth on July 8, 1947, but it was slightly too big and had to be resized. The sizing was completed before the public’s first glimpse of the ring at the couple’s formal engagement announcement, which took place on July 10.
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Antrobus used a number of the remaining diamonds from Princess Alice’s tiara to construct a wedding gift for Prince Philip to present to Princess Elizabeth. Jewelry historian Leslie Field has noted that Philip was “deeply involved with the design of the wide diamond and platinum bracelet.” The Queen has worn the bracelet often throughout their marriage, and in recent years, has loaned it to the Duchess of Cambridge.
To mark their fifth wedding anniversary in 1952, Prince Philip dreamed up an intricate bracelet for his wife. The Royal Collection notes that the “gold, diamond, sapphire and ruby bracelet was made by Boucheron to the Duke’s designs.” The bracelet’s adornments all have very personal meaning: it incorporates the couple’s joint cypher in its links, as well as Philip’s naval badge and heraldic roses.
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This gold and ruby brooch wasn’t designed by Philip, but it certainly fits in with his modern aesthetic. The brooch was acquired by Philip for the Queen in 1966. The piece, made of gold set with diamonds and carved rubies, has a scarab-inspired design. It was made by one of the couple’s favorite jewelers, Andrew Grima.
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Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (1921-2021)