06 September 2016

Princess Marie Louise's Diamond Sunburst Brooch

Princess Marie Louise's Diamond Sunburst Brooch
Princess Marie Louise (1872-1956) was born Princess Marie Louise of Schleswig-Holstein, daughter of Princess Helena and granddaughter of Queen Victoria. She married Prince Aribert of Anhalt in 1891, an ill-fated match that ended with her father-in-law annulling the union without Marie Louise's knowledge while she was out of the country. After that, she returned home on Queen Victoria's orders and there she remained, eventually dropping her German title along with the rest of the Windsors during World War I. "Cousin Louie" was a colorful member of the extended royal family, one who attended the coronation of The Queen in 1953 with her own supply of gin and tonic in hand, leading to her riding back to Buckingham Palace while half hanging out of the carriage window in the rain to wave to the crowds. (One of my favorite coronation stories.)

Princess Marie Louise at The Queen's coronation
Marie Louise was draped in jewels for that coronation, including a diamond sunburst brooch on her shoulder. The brooch has a large round top portion with rays of diamonds radiating from a central diamond cluster, and a similar, smaller version as a pendant beneath. The brooch's exact origin is not known; Royal Magazin points out that there were a few diamond star brooches among Princess Marie Louise's wedding gifts, including from Queen Victoria. The brooch was also worn by Princess Helena Victoria (1870-1948), Marie Louise's sister.

Marie Louise
She never married again, and had no children. When she passed away in 1956, Princess Marie Louise left jewels to multiple of people, including The Queen. The Cartier Indian Tiara went to her godson, Prince Richard, currently The Duke of Gloucester. The Diamond Sunburst Brooch was inherited by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.

The Queen Mother wore the brooch publicly just a couple of times, including for the official family portrait released to mark The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh's 1972 Silver Wedding. Following her 2002 death, it would have passed to The Queen, where it is still waiting for a reappearance on Her Majesty, or as a loan to The Duchess of Cornwall or another family member. The diamond rays of this brooch are very much like those found in popular Russian fringe/kokoshnik tiara designs, and I can't help but think it's aching to be paired up with one of those classic tiara models.

1960: State Visit from France  

Photos: Beaton/Hay Wrightson/Lichfield