05 November 2013

The Diamond Cockade Brooch

The Diamond Cockade Brooch
The Diamond Cockade Brooch has been worn to three coronations and used in its present form by four queens. This is a brooch with a rich history – and at this time, we don’t even know its whole story. It is said to have belonged to Queen Victoria, but it was Queen Alexandra that had it altered to the form we’re familiar with today. It’s a large clasp for a cloak, which is used as a stomacher or very large brooch, all made in diamonds. It comes in three pieces, a central star with eight points and large diamond elements between each, and two side pieces with an intricate knotted design. Before Alexandra, the piece was in five sections and was originally used as a cockade – normally a hat ornament, possibly part of a military uniform. The exact provenance and age is not currently known.
Queen Alexandra using the full clasp at her coronation (with close up of her heavily jeweled bodice) and using only the center section
Queen Alexandra wore the full three pieces to her coronation alongside her husband, Edward VII, in 1902 underneath her swags of pearls. It was also used at the coronation of George V in 1911 by Queen Mary, who wore it with the two side pieces at an angle. Mary was also known to use the side pieces with different brooches in the center.
Queen Mary (with the full clasp, and using the two side sections around other pieces), Queen Elizabeth (using the center section on her bodice), and Queen Elizabeth II (using the center section as a shoulder brooch)
Queen Elizabeth wore just the center section to her 1937 coronation with her husband, George VI – and it’s entirely possible it wasn’t seen in public again until Queen Elizabeth II wore it in 2008, to a state banquet for the President of France. (That 71-year delay makes it seem likely it stayed with the Queen Mother after 1952, not being unearthed until the Queen inherited her jewelry in 2002 and began to debut different pieces.) We haven’t seen the side pieces since Queen Mary’s time, and I suppose they suffer the same fate as most stomachers, becoming harder to wear as fashions change. Regardless of the difficulties of wearing it, it is a staggering piece, and it would be such a treat to see the whole thing once again some day.

Appearances (of the Center Section only, unless otherwise noted):
5 November 2013: State Visit from South Korea, State Banquet 
2008: State Visit from France, State Banquet

Photos: Lord Twining/Royal Collection/Getty Images