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British Royals

The dazzling diamond bow that became a favourite of two queens

It’s among the lesser known sparklers in the royal collection but it has been passed among queens before they were majesties and it provides a fascinating glimpse into how family and dynasty intertwine.

The Dorset Bow Brooch might not be one of the most famous of royal gems but its significance to the House of Windsor meant it took a starring role in the last major exhibition at Buckingham Palace of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.

Glittering beneath the lights, it’s helped tell the start of Elizabeth II’s reign in a special Platinum Jubilee event. And it had a very special link to a woman who helped shape the most famous reign of the 20th century.

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Queen Mary was the original owner of this brooch. To be fair, Queen Mary was the original owner of many of the gems in the current royal jewellery box but this one provides a touching bond between the famously severe looking consort and the granddaughter she doted on who went on to become Britain’s longest reigning Monarch.

Mary was given the brooch in 1893 when she married George, Duke of York, younger brother of her recently departed first fiance, Albert Victor. Mary had been chosen as the perfect royal bride by Queen Victoria for the man who was second in line to her throne. When he died, a suitable if brief period of grief was followed by a suitable and rather fortuitous pairing with the brother who would now take his place in the line of succession. Mary was a very important royal bride and people around the country began to send her gifts.

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Among them were the residents of the County of Dorset who clubbed together for a diamond brooch for the queen to be. Mary became rather fond of it which was far from surprising as she was rather fond of anything made of precious stones. It became part of a huge collection of jewels. When her granddaughter, Princess Elizabeth, married in 1947, it was among the many sparkling gifts she presented to her. It took on a special dynastic significance a year later when the newlywed princess gave birth to a son and wore the brooch for the christening.

Since then, it went on to become a favourite of Queen Elizabeth II and its inclusion in the Buckingham Palace display only underlined its importance.

Close up, it is very pretty and very intricate and it exudes a charm that makes it a major attraction.

It might now be associated with the most famous Monarch of modern times but it’s a link with a past and a reminder of a special bond with a queen now long gone.

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About author

Lydia Starbuck is Jubilee and Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton who is a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. Her latest book, A History of British Royal Jubilees, is out now. Her new book, The Mysterious Death of Katherine Parr, will be published in March 2024. June is an award winning reporter, producer and editor. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.