Kate Middleton's blink-and-you'll-miss-it style nod to the late Queen
Kate Middleton has paid subtle tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth II on the first anniversary of her death.
Today is likely to be an emotional one for the Royal Family, as today marks one year since The Queen died.
For the anniversary, The Prince and Princess of Wales are visiting St Davids Cathedral, Pembrokeshire, to commemorate the life of Her Late Majesty.
And Kate gave a sentimental nod to the late Queen with her jewellery as she stepped out in Wales, opting for special pearl drop earrings – previously owned by the previous monarch.
The Princess of Wales first borrowed the jewels from The Queen when she went to the Netherlands for her first solo abroad trip in October 2016, and wore them late last year when greeting Commonwealth troops ahead of the state funeral.
Kate wore an all-burgundy ensemble with a coat dress from Eponine London, a hat by Sahar Millinery, a Mulberry Bayswater Wallet clutch and matching shoes – despite the UK being in the midst of a heatwave.
Pearls are typically worn by royals during times of mourning, so the jewellery choice seems fitting for the sentimental event.
Kate also wore the very same earrings multiple times during the mourning period last year, most notably as the royals received The Queen’s coffin at Buckingham Palace and while greeting well-wishers at Sandringham.
Their Royal Highnesses are visiting west Wales today, where they will meet local communities in and around St Davids.
St Davids is the only UK cathedral where, since the Reformation, the Sovereign has had a special stall in the Quire among the members of the Chapter, and Her Late Majesty sat there on four occasions during her visits to St Davids over the years.
The royal outing comes after a long summer break for Prince William and Princess Kate, whose most recent holiday was a gathering at Balmoral Castle with their children: Prince George, 10, Princess Charlotte, eight, and Prince Louis, five.
A guide to some of the Queen’s most iconic brooches and their meanings
Queen Elizabeth II had a collection of more than 100 brooches, but there were some that held extra special meaning.
Here’s your cheat sheet.
The sapphire chrysanthemum brooch
The Sapphire chrysanthemum brooch is a simple but statement design, with multiple platinum-set sapphires surrounded by diamond petals.
It was given to the then Princess Elizabeth for launch the British Princess oil tanker in 1946, and she went on to wear it for many key moments, including her honeymoon, Princess Anne’s Christening, and her and Prince Philip’s diamond wedding anniversary.
The Dorset bow brooch
A family heirloom, the Dorset bow brooch was Queen Mary’s wedding gift from the county of Dorset. It was then given to Elizabeth for her wedding, and she went on to wear it frequently, including for the Christening of Prince Charles.
It was often used to symbolise remembrance – the Queen wore it for many Remembrance Day events, as well as for the funeral of the Duke of Windsor.
The Queen Mother’s art deco leaf brooch
Crafted by Cartier in 1928, this brooch was passed along quite a bit, given by King George VI to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, then to Queen Elizabeth II (Princess Elizabeth at the time) as a birthday present.
She wore it many times in the 1950s, including in the moment above, when she touched down in London after a trip to Italy.
The aquamarine clip brooches
These twin brooches were Queen Elizabeth II’s 18th birthday gift from her parents, so it’s no surprise that the monarch absolutely adored them.
She wore the set many, many times during her reign, especially on anniversaries connected to her father’s memory, such as on the date of her Jubilee.
You’ll spot the striking blue duo in photos from the Queen’s message for her diamond Jubilee in 2012, for lunch with the Obamas in 2016, and for the opening of Parliament in 2021.
The diamond clematis brooch
Queen Elizabeth wore this gloriously sparkly diamond brooch for her official engagement photos, and went on to bring it out multiple times over the next decades.
The City of London lily brooch
Elizabeth was given this hefty diamond-encrusted lily design when she received the Freedom of the City of London. She went on to wear it a bunch, most notably for the Queen Mother’s 101st birthday and the private service for Princess Margaret.
The flower basket brooch
This colourful style was another gift from the Queen’s parents, this time to mark the birth of Charles. Years on, she wore it for Prince George’s Christening, too.
Queen Adelaide’s brooch
You might recognise this diamond brooch from the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics.
It was created for King William IV’s consort, Queen Adelaide, reusing other jewels to form what was intended as a clasp for a pearl necklace. It has a large centre diamond, six around it, and smaller stones to complete the design.
The Kent amethyst brooch
The Kent amethyst brooch is actually multiple brooches.
The main part is the one you’ll see most often, the top hexagonal amethyst surrounded by diamond sun rays. This has some small loops at the bottom, allowing for three smaller amethysts to be attached. It’s thought that there may be some additional brooch parts, but that these were rarely worn or were attached to the matching necklace instead.
The set was owned by Queen Victoria’s mother, the Duchess of Kent, who left it to her daughter, who then passed it down again. Queen Elizabeth II was given the sparkling jewels after her accession, and wore the different parts many times over the years.
Prince Albert’s sapphire and diamond brooch (also known as Queen Victoria’s wedding brooch)
Prince Albert gave this brooch – a massive sapphire set in gold and surrounded by 12 diamonds – to Queen Victoria the day before their wedding, and she went on to wear it over and over again until Albert passed away. It was passed down to the Crown and once in Queen Elizabeth II’s posession, became one of her favourites.
She wore this brilliant blue piece for Prince William’s Christening as well as for her Christmas message in 2019.
Queen Victoria’s diamond bow brooches
Yep, plural – but Queen Elizabeth II only really wore one at a time.
This was a set of three bow-shaped diamond brooches, commissioned by Queen Victoria from Garrard and passed down to Alexandra, then to Mary, then to Elizabeth I, then finally to Queen Elizabeth II.
The Queen wore pieces of this set for many Remembrance events as well as Margaret Thatcher’s funeral.
Queen Victoria’s ears of wheat
Another set that’s larger than you might realise. There are in fact six of these large diamond ears of wheat, but the Queen typically wore two at a time.
They were made for Queen Adelaide at the request of her husband by Rundell, Bridge & Co, then redone by Garrard in 1858.
Queen Elizabeth II wore the wheat ears not only as brooches but as hair ornaments, too, and lent them to Princess Eugenie for her wedding reception.
The Cambridge emerald cluster brooch
A round emerald surrounded by diamonds, with the option to dangle another Cambridge emerald pendant.
Cambridge pearl pendant brooch
This pretty pearl brooch belonged to the Duchess of Cambridge – no, not Kate, but Queen Mary’s grandmother, Princess Augusta. In 1953, Queen Mary then passed it down to Elizabeth II.
The late monarch wore the piece for her 50th birthday portrait, for her 2014 Christmas message, and in a Zoom call in 2021.
The Queen Mother’s palm leaf brooch (also known as the paisley brooch)
One of the Queen’s most frequently worn brooches, this is a simpler diamond design in the shape of a leaf.
The Queen Mother loved this particular piece of jewellery, wearing it repeatedly throughout her life – including while mourning King George VI.
Queen Alexandra’s wedding gift brooch
This brooch forms part of a grand Garrard set made for Princess Alexandra of Denmark for her wedding, comprised of a large diamond tiara, a diamond and pearl necklace, a set of earrings, and a brooch.
The Queen often wore the brooch, particularly for Remembrance events, and the earrings, while Kate Middleton and the Queen Mother have been spotted wearing the necklace.
The modern diamond and ruby spray brooch
The Queen often wore this with red outfits, for obvious reason: the rubies made the brooch a natural accessory.
She wore it for multiple state dinners and her diamond Jubilee walk.
Queen Mary’s Richmond brooch
A super ornate pearl and diamond design that the Queen wore for the wedding of Harry and Meghan.
Queen Mary’s pink sapphire and diamond brooch
A sweet pink sapphire, surrounded by large round diamonds and smaller diamonds between the stones, the Queen wore this one frequently through the years, including for a portrait (by Mary McCartney, daughter of Paul) to commemorate her becoming the longest-reigning British monarch.
True lover’s knot brooch
Another one of the Queen’s diamond bows, this appears to be the largest of the bunch.
It was made by Garrard for Queen Mary and inherited by Elizabeth II in 1953.
She often wore it to hold her poppy on Remembrance Day, and donned it for Will and Kate’s wedding in 2018.
The New Zealand silver fern brooch
As the name suggests, the Queen wore this brooch for events related to New Zealand, after being given it by the wife of the Mayor of Auckland for Christmas in 1953.
Elizabeth II even lent it to Kate, now the Princess of Wales, for her tour of New Zealand in 2014.
The pearl triangle brooch
One of the more delicate, smaller pearl brooches owned by the Queen, comprised of two pearls and a yellow diamond set in a diamond frame.
Elizabeth wore this for her walkabout outside St James Palace on the day before Princess Diana’s funeral, as well as for a wedding anniversary portrait in 1979.
The golden dahlia brooch (also known as the golden sunflower brooch)
Another work by Garrard, the Queen clearly loved this accessory, wearing it for public appearances at least 40 times.
It has a diamond flower (dahlia or sunflower? That’s up to you…) surrounded by 18 carat gold petals.
The grima ruby brooch (also known as the scarab brooch)
The Queen received this brooch – made up of repurposed rubies, gold, and diamonds and created by jeweller Andrew Grima – from the Duke of Edinburgh, and went on to wear it in tribute to the Duke after his passing.
Elizabeth also opted for this brooch for her 70th wedding anniversary portrait.
The Jardine star brooch
This one feels quite Christmassy, no?
The Jardine star was left to the Queen by Lady Jardine, and has eight twinkling diamond rays that surround a central cluster of eight diamonds.
The diamond and pearl leaf brooch
Kate, Princess of Wales, wore this brooch to the procession of the Queen’s coffin.
This isn’t one of Queen Elizabeth II’s most well-known brooches – in fact, it’s rarely been seen.
The Queen was spotted wearing it on a yellow dress back in 1999, in Seoul, but we knew it had been passed along to Kate more recently, as the Princess of Wales donned it for a visit to Belgium.
Queen Victoria’s 11 pearl and diamond brooch
Another pearl brooch that belonged to Queen Victoria, this one has 11 large pearls; eight in a diamond shape and three hanging down as pendants.
It was handed to the Crown and worn frequently by the Queen Mother until 2002, when it was passed on to Queen Elizabeth II, who has worn it multiple times to the Royal Windsor Horse Show.
The Courtauld Thomson scallop shell brooch (also known as the Queen Mother’s shell brooch)
A rather grand design in the shape of a shell, this has solid rows of diamonds with a pearl at the base.
It was designed by Lord Courtauld-Thomson for the Queen Mother, who went on to wear it frequently – including for her 100th birthday celebrations.
After the Queen Mother died, Elizabeth II took the shell brooch into her collection and wore it on multiple occasions, including Royal Ascot, a funeral, Remembrance Sunday, an Easter service, and her 2020 Christmas broadcast
The Braemar feather brooch
The Braemar Royal Highland Society gave this eagle’s feather brooch – made with 24 carat yellow gold, white gold, silver, and platinum – to the Queen to mark her golden Jubilee.
After that, the Queen wore this every year, for the annual Braemar Gathering.
The Queen Mother’s Cartier lily brooch
This weighty design is sometimes called a footlong, but in fact measures in at just under 7 inches long… which is still giant for a brooch. Picture a 6inch Subway sandwich on your lapel – it’d make quite the statement.
The brooch, of course, is not made of bread and your choice of fillings, but instead more than 200 diamonds from the Queen Mother’s collection, then an extra 50 added by Cartier for good measure.
The dramatic piece was commissioned in 1939 for the Queen Mother, and has a long stem with a lily flower design at the top.
Because of its size, Queen Elizabeth II didn’t wear it often, but when she did, you couldn’t help but marvel at it.
The Queen Mother’s aquamarine art deco brooch
You will have spotted this pinned to many of Queen Elizabeth II’s blue outfits, for obvious reasons.
It’s not known who made this particular piece, but many believe it’s another Cartier classic.
After the Queen Mother’s death, Elizabeth II inherited the brooch and went on to wear it for one of her Christmas messages.
The centenary rose brooch
Elizabeth II commissioned this pretty piece from Collins and Sons for the Queen Mother’s 100th birthday. It has a hand-painted Grandiflora Rose – a flower grown by the Queen Mother – surrounded by 100 diamonds.
The Queen went on to wear it after her mother’s death, including for the Royal Windsor Horse Show and the 2004 Christmas service.
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