Jewels from Commonwealth on display at Buckingham Palace

  July 30, 2009 at 12:53 am by

The summer opening of Buckingham Palace this year includes a exhibition of royal gifts from the Commonwealth countries. Included are a number of brooches and a necklace that have been gifts during the royal tours of the Commonwealth countries in the last 60 years.

One of the first gifts the Queen received on a Commonwealth tour was the Flame Lily Brooch from Rhodesia. During a 1947 tour with her parents and Princess Margaret to southern Africa, Princess Elizabeth turned 21. As a present from the children of Southern Rhodesia, she was presented with a diamond brooch in the shape of the country’s emblem the flame lily. image She notably wore the brooch when she stepped off the plane from Kenya in February 1952 as the new Queen following her fathers death and now wears it on a few occasions. image

In 1951, Princess Elizabeth with the Duke of Edinburgh toured around Canada. image On the tour she wore a diamond brooch in the shape of a maple leaf. image The brooch belonged to her mother. During a Candian tour in 1939 Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother) was presented with the brooch. (image the Queen Mother wearing her Maple Leaf brooch in 1940 with Princess Elizabeth) The Queen Mother continued to wear the brooch until her death. image The Queen now wears the piece to events relating to Canada such as the vigil for Canadian servicesmen at Canada House to mark the 90th anniversary of World War One in November 2008. image

The Coronation Tour of 1953/54 saw the new Queen being presented with a number of gifts. This included a diamond and opal necklace and matching earrings presented by the people of South Australia on 23rd March 1954. The stunning opal which weighs 203 carats was discovered in the Andamooka Opal Fields in Oodnadatta. Wendts Jewellers of Adelaide set the stone in a diamond scroll necklace and matching earrings were amde to complete the set. image The Queen has never worn the piece in public.

On that 1953/54 tour two other gifts which feature in the exhibition were also given to the Queen – from New Zealand the Fern Brooch ( image) and from Australia the Wattle brooch (image) . To read more about these two brooches see this blog

Also featured in the exhibition are some lesser known pieces. In 1972 the Queen was given a gold brooch in the shape of a porcupine by the King of the Ashanti. image Another brooch given to her in 1981 whilst on a state visit to Sri Lanka. The spray of flowers set in gold consists of semi-precious and precious stones. image Whilst attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government in Uganda in November 2007, the Queen wore this large spray brooch image and also for her trip to the USA. image

For her Jamaica leg of her Golden Jubliee Tour in 2002, the Queen was presented with brooch in the form of a Doctor Bird, a hummingbird native to Jamaica. The brooch is made of diamonds, rubies and sapphires in a setting of white gold, silver, platnium, black Jamaican granite and green Jamaican marble. image In 2007 at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, the Queen was given a diamond and gold flower brooch by the President of Botswana. image

More information on the summer opening of Buckingham Palace and the special Commonwealth exhibition can be found at this website

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