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  • Writer's pictureVictoria Regina

Queen Victoria’s Bow Brooches

Updated: Jan 11

Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 2024

In 1858, the King of Hanover claimed all jewels that once belonged to Queen Charlotte. As a result, Queen Victoria lost many of her favourite pieces, including a set of diamond bow brooches. These brooches were among several pieces commissioned from R & S Gerrard & Co to replace the originals. Each one is a slightly different size and together they contain a total of 497 brilliant cut stones and nine rose cut stones that taken from unused pieces of jewellery in Queen Victoria’s personal collection.

Like many items in Victoria's jewellery box, the brooches were left as an heirloom of the Crown. The first to inherit the bows was Victoria’s daughter-in-law, Queen Alexandra. Alexandra preferred wearing the brooches as a set and most notably wore them to both the opening of parliament in 1901 and to her coronation as Queen Consort in 1902. Unusually, she would wear them cascading down her skirt, usually with a pendent attatched to a tiny suspension loop.

King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, State Opening of Parliament, 1901 Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 2024

After King Edward VII died in 1910, the brooches were inherited by King George V and his wife, Queen Mary. Like Queen Alexandra, Mary wore the brooches for her coronation in 1911 and mostly wore them with a pendant. On one occasion, she was photographed with the large Cullinan III stone suspended from the largest bow and two smaller pear-shaped drops from the other two.

Queen Mary 1917 Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 2024

Unlike Alexandra and Mary, Queen Elizabeth, who inherited i them in 1936, rarely wore the brooches and tended only wear one at a time. In 1952, they were passed down to Queen Elizabeth II. The brooches soon became a favourite of our beloved Queen, and have since become a symbol of her reign. She wore them to several important occasions, including to the funeral of Princess Diana, to her Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2002 and most recently on the 5th June 2022 for one of her final balcony appearances at Buckingham Palace.

Queen Elizabeth II photographed on Christmas Day 2002 ©2024 a Reach plc subsidiary

The brooches are now in the possession of King Charles III and Queen Camilla.

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