British Royals

Princess’s Victorian fan uncovered in Kenilworth

Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge. V&A Lafayette, London [Public domain]

A Victorian fan that once belonged to a British princess is set for auction after a lucky collector had it appraised in Kenilworth.

The fan was once owned by Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge, the mother of Queen Mary, and great-grandmother to current Queen Elizabeth II.  

“It’s a beautiful object, made with Brussels lace and featuring carved and gilt-decorated mother-of-pearl sticks. It shimmers in the light and would have been a fitting royal fashion accessory,” said Notty Hornblower, the vintage costume expert at Hansons Auctioneers, the auctioneering house that provided a valuation to the owner.

Princess Mary Adelaide’s fan is dated to the 1870s and was purchased by the current owner’s mother, who collected fans. It was valued at St Francis of Assisi Church Hall in Kenilworth.

“It was made by renowned fan makers J Duvelleroy, of London, and comes complete with its original box and receipt from 1978 when it was bought at auction for £75. It’s certainly worth much more than that now.

“Its estimate is being assessed but we could be looking at a four-figure sum,” said Hornblower.

Princess Mary Adelaide was noted for her extravagant taste and equally extravagant debts during her lifetime. She married the Duke of Teck and had three children, one of whom was May of Teck, the future Queen Mary, consort of George V.

Princess Mary Adelaide and her family was forced to live abroad in a self-imposed exile due to their debts, which they couldn’t pay back. When they returned to the United Kingdom, they lived modestly at Kensington Palace. Princess Mary Adelaide died in 1897, never having seen her daughter as consort and son-in-law become monarch.

If any readers think they may have items of royal provenance and want to have them valued, Hansons Auctioneers will return to the St Francis of Assisi Church for another session.

About author

Jess is a communications professional and freelance writer who lives in Halifax and has a passion for all things royal, particularly the British Royal Family.