04 September 2017

Queen Mary's Thistle Brooch

Queen Mary's Thistle Brooch

A new photographic portrait of The Queen was taken in 2010 and unveiled for the Scottish Parliament in 2011, featuring The Queen wearing - for apparently the first time - a unique diamond brooch. The brooch has the appearance of a key from afar, but up close it becomes a diamond thistle with two leaves forming a wreath and a long stem.

The Queen in 2010
Shaun Murawski/Scottish Parliament

Information released with the new portrait identified the long brooch as a diamond thistle that belonged to The Queen's grandmother, Queen Mary. The brooch may have been a gift to Queen Mary from the contractors of Kelvin Hall, which was officially opened during a visit from King George V and Queen Mary to Glasgow on July 12, 1927. The contractors presented her with a hat brooch of diamonds set in platinum, designed by Edward & Sons.* Despite not being worn until 2010, The Queen most likely inherited it along with much of the rest of Queen Mary's jewel collection on her death in 1953.

Queen Mary, with George V and a young Princess Elizabeth, wears the brooch in Scotland

While Queen Mary wore the brooch pinned to one of her signature toque hats, The Queen has thus far worn it only in traditional brooch style on her shoulder. Both queens have capitalized on the thistle association and worn the brooch in Scotland.

Embed from Getty Images
The Queen in 2017

The brooch had to wait seven years for its next outing, at another Scottish occasion. This offers the first real opportunity to see this brooch in full detail. It's really quite beautiful, isn't it? I'd love to see it back in hat use, though that's not something I expect The Queen will ever do.

*This likely provenance and description was discovered by Beth at the Royal Jewels of the World Message Board. Thanks to her and to Franck for bringing it to attention here.

Appearances:
29 June 2019: Holyrood Week: Scottish Parliament Anniversary
4 September 2017: Queensferry Crossing Opening