Jewel of the Day: King William IV Brooch
The Opening Ceremony of London Olympic Games was a dazzling and a magnificent event, and of course, Her Majesty had to wear jewellery to match. Her choices for the significant occasion included Queen Victoria’s Diamond Collet Necklace, Queen Mary’s Cluster Earrings, and the hero of this blog entry – King William IV Brooch.
In 1830, shortly after William IV’s accession to the Throne, the new King took six large diamonds and a number of smaller stones to be re-fashioned as a piece of jewellery for his wife, Queen Adelaide (hence the second name of the brooch – Queen Adelaide’s Brooch). The stones were originally set in the diamond-studded Badge of the Order of the Bath that had belonged to his father, King George III. The end result was a magnificent brooch featuring six large stones in a circular frame around a cluster centre.
Queen Adelaide was said to have given this brooch to her beloved niece, Victoria (possibly, as a wedding present), who frequently wore it throughout her reign. Since it is a fairly significant jewel, Queen Victoria left the brooch to the Crown. Among other things, this brooch is important because it has been worn by all British Queens (Consort and Regnant) from Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen, to Elizabeth II.
Queen Adelaide usually wore it as a centrepiece – as she usually did with most of her brooches. Queen Victoria continued the trend, although she did wear the brooch “conventionally” (on left side) as well. Queen Alexandra, ever the original, invented new ways the brooch could be used; for instance, in a 1901 portrait she is pictured with the brooch pinned at her waist. Queen Mary – who was a firm supporter of the philosophy “there can never be enough diamonds on a lady” – usually added a large oval diamond drop to the brooch (as, for instance, in 1929 portrait).
Queen Elizabeth (The Queen Mother) apparently loved this piece and chose to wear it for her Coronation in 1937. The present Queen has also worn it on a number of occasions, both for evening and day events: unlike her predecessors, she wears it exclusively as a brooch.
King William IV Brooch has been immortalised in art; the marble statue of Queen Victoria, located at the Royal College of Physicians, shows the Monarch wearing this brooch.Filed under British Royals, Historical Royals
Tagged Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen, Elizabeth II, Jewellery, London 2012, Olympic Games, Queen Victoria, William IV of the United Kingdom.