Botanical brooches

Thanks to the work of Ella Kay on The Court Jeweller website in covering Queen Elizabeth’s recent state visit to France I have been enjoying photos of the Queen and several of her brooches.

Some are specific botanical subjects – such as the silver fern brooch presented to Her Majesty by the people of New Zealand, and which the Duchess of Cambridge wore during her recent visit to these shores – while others are simply “flowers” of an indeterminate sort.

Beautiful jewels fashioned into botanical subjects, what’s not to like? So just for fun on a winter’s day I thought I would highlight some of Queen Elizabeth’s brooches that represent specific plants – the links are all to the same website, the Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor (sic).

  • The Australian Wattle Brooch – presented as a state gift on her first tour of Australia in 1954. It represents Acacia pycnantha or golden wattle, the national floral symbol of Australia. See some golden wattle images from the National Museum of Australia, including a 1954 portrait of Queen Elizabeth that became known as the “wattle painting”.
  • The Flame Lily Brooch – a 21st birthday gift the funds for which were raised by 42,000 children in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Returning home from Kenya after the death of her father in 1952, this was the only piece of jewellery Princess Elizabeth wore on her mourning clothes. Gloriosa superba, or flame lily, is the national flower of Zimbabwe.
  • The Sorghum Brooch – a state gift from Botswana in 2007 when the country hosted the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting (CHOGM). Apparently this month’s outing in France was the first time the brooch had been worn in public. The caption on the Royal Order website says “sorghum (or millet)” but they are not the same plant, although both are cereal crops. Read more about sorghum here and millet here. This website indicates that sorghum is the staple food crop in Botswana.
  • New Zealand Fern Brooch – purchased by the “women of Auckland” and presented to the Queen on Christmas Day 1953, during her first tour here. Her Majesty loaned the piece that represents the silver fern (Cyathea dealbata) to the Duchess of Cambridge for her first tour to New Zealand earlier this year. Read a little more about the original gift here.
  • The Williamson Diamond Brooch – included because it features such a stonking diamond as the centre of the flower, 23.6 carats. Yikes! Elizabeth was given the diamond as a wedding present and in 1953 Cartier created a jonquil brooch using its as the centrepiece (despite the diamond being pink!).
  • The Sapphire Chrysanthemum Brooch – presented in 1946 for launching a ship. I have included this one because of the lovely photos at the end of the piece – Prince Phillip and Princess Elizabeth on honeymoon, and the same shot recreated for their 60th wedding anniversary.

If you’re keen there is a long list of her brooches, floral and otherwise, here. Click on the photo and a new page will open.


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