A Reminder of John Brown

  May 28, 2009 at 7:04 pm by

From the TRF avatar collection

From the TRF avatar collection

Few royal friendships have spawned controversy and even a movie a century later, but Queen Victoria’s attachment to her ghillie, John Brown, was exceptional. There were even rumors in their time that the depressed widow had married her wild Scotsman, earning her the nickname Mrs. Brown. In 1997 Dame Judi Dench and Billie Connolly reenacted the relationship in the movie Mrs. Brown.

The Queen mourned when Brown, who had advanced from ghillie to personal attendant, died in 1883. Her grief endured and when she died she asked to be buried with a lock of his hair, his ring, and his photograph. All to the disapproval of the moral rectitude of the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII. After Brown’s death Victoria ordered the creation of memorials and statues, most of which were destroyed by King Edward. You have to wonder at the spite with which the king acted; what caused his enormous and public resentment?

Click for the photo at collectinguk.com

Click for the photo at collectinguk.com

Perhaps it is a result of the king’s venom that few memorial objects remain. Among them is a stickpin that will be auctioned in Edinburgh on August 18. It is expected to reach as much as £700.

The originals were ordered by the Queen from an Aberdeen jeweler. The gold pin shows Brown’s silhouette on one side and Victoria’s monogram on the other. The Queen gave them to her highland retainers and cottagers, to be worn along with a mourning scarf on the anniversary of Brown’s death. Few stickpins remain, perhaps because, with the death of the Queen and Edward VII’s disdain, it was no longer advantageous for them to be worn in the royal presence.

Filed under Historical Royals, The United Kingdom
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