10 September 2015

Queen Victoria's Hesse Diamond Jubilee Brooch

A brooch with a Queen Victoria connection in a week full of comparisons to Victoria, shall we?

The gifts poured in for Queen Victoria when she celebrated her Diamond Jubilee in 1897. Among the presents received were the Diamond Jubilee Brooch, now worn by The Queen, and another brooch of diamonds and cabochon sapphires. As detailed by Royal Magazin, which offers more on the history of the brooch and Jubilee, this was a family gift from four children of Victoria's daughter Alice, Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine, together with their spouses: Prince and Princess Louis of Battenberg (later the Marquess and Marchioness of Milford Haven), Grand Duke Sergei and Grand Duchess Elisabeth of Russia, the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine, and the Emperor and Empress of Russia.
Queen Victoria's Hesse Diamond Jubilee Brooch
The main shape of the brooch is a line of diamonds forming a heart shape with a knot at the bottom, from which two large sapphire pendants hang. A third sapphire is located at the top of the brooch. The interior of the heart features a design of the number 60 in Slavonic characters.

Unlike the Diamond Jubilee Brooch, which became an instantly recognizable favorite of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, the Hesse Brooch went unseen (or so it seems) for about 110 years - all the way up until 2007, when The Duchess of Cornwall wore it during a visit to the United States. It seems likely that the sapphire brooch was in The Queen Mother's possession, given that Camilla wears a large portion of her jewels. If true, it certainly wouldn't have been the only piece of jewelry left unworn for decades in that collection.
The Duchess of Cornwall has worn the sapphire brooch several times, including during a visit to Norway in 2012. That appearance carried double significance because she and The Prince of Wales were visiting in honor of The Queen's own Diamond Jubilee, and because King Harald V is another descendant of Queen Victoria. The Hesse Diamond Jubilee Brooch may be one of the oldest pieces at Camilla's disposal, and is certainly one of those with the longest royal history, and I'm glad she's brought it out of hiding.

Photos: Stella/via Getty Images