19 February 2012

Sunday Brooch: The Flame Lily

It seems only fitting to start our new series with the brooch that started Queen Elizabeth's reign: the Flame Lily Brooch (sometimes also called the Rhodesian Flame Lily).
Princess Elizabeth celebrated her 21st birthday abroad, touring southern Africa with her parents and sister. This brooch was one of her birthday presents, a gift from 42,000 children in Southern Rhodesia. The schoolchildren were asked to donate a bit of pocket money each to contribute to the creation of this 301 diamond-strong platinum piece in the shape of a flame lily, a national flower.
Returning home from Kenya after her father's death in 1952, this brooch was the sole striking ornamentation on the young queen's black outfit as she descended the steps of her plane - the first glimpse the public had of their new queen. She wears it to this day, recently capturing its sparkle for her 2011 Christmas message:
Interestingly, there are actually two flame lily brooches in the Queen's collection. Both Princess Margaret and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother were presented with very similar pieces later on, and the Queen inherited her mother's brooch. It would be terribly difficult (and sometimes impossible) to tell the two apart. Multiples of one brooch: now that's a collection, I'd say.

Photos: The Royal Collection/Queen Elizabeth II/PA/Zimbio/Getty Images