25 March 2012

Sunday Brooch: Queen Victoria's Bows

The classic bow is a popular motif for brooches, and Queen Elizabeth's collection includes several variations on this knotted theme. One variation is a set of bows with some serious historical importance attached.
Queen Victoria's Bow Brooches
In 1858, Queen Victoria had Garrard make her three bow brooches out of 506 diamonds she supplied. Two of the brooches are large, and one is a bit smaller (above, a close up of one of the bows as well as a comparison between the large and small sizes). These bows were among the jewels she left to the Crown in her will, and they've passed from queen to queen ever since.
L to R: Queen Alexandra wearing the bows down her skirt at her first state opening of parliament as queen and her coronation, Queen Mary using the brooches on her bodice on two occasions, and Queen Elizabeth
Queen Alexandra and Queen Mary - both living in a time when encrusting yourself with jewels was the way to go - got creative with the set. They hung other jewels as pendants from each brooch and used them as makeshift stomachers or skirt ornamentation. By the time Queen Elizabeth, the future Queen Mother, got hold of them times had changed, and she wore them in a more modest fashion.
Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth follows her mother's example and we see her with just one, worn in traditional brooch position. They seem to be fairly popular with her, which I suppose makes sense as this set is among the more basic interpretations of a bow brooch in her collection. Sometimes you just need to put a bow on it, I guess.
The Duchess of York
In 1986, she lent one of the brooches to the brand new Duchess of York for the Braemar Games. It was an unusual move, if you ask me: the queen doesn't do a tremendous amount of one-time loans and when she does, it's not with the stuff that Queen Victoria left to the Crown "to be worn by future Queens in right of it". Anomaly or not, I'm sure it was much appreciated by the duchess who of course is a well-known fan of Queen Victoria (both daughters have names inspired by Queen Victoria's descendants, and she was involved with the product of The Young Victoria).

Photos: Leslie Field/Suzy Menkes/Getty Images/Daylife