For last Saturday’s royal wedding, the Queen opened her vault to Meghan Markle and loaned her Queen Mary’s bandeau tiara, but she pulled out a few favorites for herself as well. On top of her bright green Stuart Parvin dress and coat, Queen Elizabeth wore her favorite three-strand pearl necklace and pinned the Richmond Brooch.
The large pin is made from diamonds set in silver and gold in a scrolling design, and there is a central pearl and diamond pendant that hangs down.
The eye-catching brooch did not escape notice. Designer India Hicks and her mother, Lady Pamela Hicks, who is Prince Philip’s first cousin (Hicks’s father is Lord Mountbatten, Philip’s beloved uncle), apparently spent Sunday doing the same thing everyone else on planet earth was doing: Discussing the wedding in detail.
Darling, the Queen does not have any small brooches.
In an Instagram post, India Hicks told her mother “my goodness the [brooch] the Queen wore was magnificent and very large.” To which Lady Hicks had a tart response. “’Darling, she said ‘the Queen does not have any SMALL brooch’s [sic].'”
The brooch was more than just large—it has a unique connection to the tiara that Prince Harry’s bride chose when she visited Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace. According to royal jewelry expert Ella Kay, the Richmond Brooch was also part of Queen Mary’s collection, which she bequeathed to her granddaughter the Queen when she died in 1953.
Below, Mary, then Duchess of York, is pictured in 1897 wearing the brooch while in costume with her husband, later King George V. They are dressed as the 3rd Earl of Cumberland and a lady at the court of Marguerite de Valois for a fancy dress ball held in Devonshire House (as one does).
The brooch was apparently given to Mary as a wedding present in 1893 by the people of Richmond—hence its name. The Queen has worn it several times, including in 2009 at a State Banquet for India’s then-President Pratibha Patil, which was thrown at Windsor Castle.