Platinum Jubilee: How the Queen Picks Her Jewelry for a Jubilee

Platinum Jubilee: How the Queen Picks Her Jewelry for a Jubilee

There aren’t really any set traditions for a Platinum Jubilee because Queen Elizabeth is the first monarch to have one. But over her 70 years on the throne, the queen has established a few jewelry traditions, using priceless pieces from her collection to express her affection for her ancestors. From the first jubilee celebration, honoring the 50th year of George III’s reign back in 1809, the emphasis has been on providing an opportunity for citizens to celebrate the monarch’s longevity and the nation’s stability. For the British, this means parties in the streets, but for the queen, this means she doesn’t deviate too much from her usual pearl necklace and brooch combination. Still, she does use jubilees as an opportunity to inject her day-to-day choices with a bit of added significance, usually through a subtle symbolic theme apparent from her choices. 

Sometimes that theme is overt, such as her choice of a brooch made out of the Cullinan III and IV diamonds—spectacular gems she jokingly calls “granny’s chips”—for the service of thanksgiving during her Diamond Jubilee. If that is any guide, as expert Lauren Kiehna recently pointed out, we can expect to see her wear some of her favorite pieces set in platinum, like the flame lily brooch. Sometimes it’s a little more subtle, like her choice throughout the Silver Jubilee to wear pieces that reference her grandmother, Queen Mary, and her husband, George V, whose Silver Jubilee she attended as an infant in 1927.

So far this year, the queen’s Platinum Jubilee jewelry choices have been low-key, and due to her mobility issues and a February case of COVID, she hasn’t had as many opportunities to show her collection off. But for the three official jubilee portraits released in February, she brought out an array of brooches that spotlighted some of the most significant moments in her life. In one, she wore a pair of Cartier aquamarine art deco brooches that her father gave to her on her 18th birthday. In another, she wore the diamond Greville Ivy Leaf clips, which were given to her by her mother on her 21st birthday. The third showed her in a pair of Cartier floral clips given to her on her wedding day by the Nizam of Hyderabad. The theme continued at other events. During the February memorial service for Prince Philip, she wore the Grima ruby brooch, which was designed in the late 1940s to look like Philip’s naval crest. At an event celebrating the new Elizabeth line of the London Underground, she wore a yellow gold bird of paradise embedded with 61 diamonds that the government of Singapore gave to her for her Diamond Jubilee in 2012.   

Queen Elizabeth on a Silver Jubilee tour of New Zealand in 1977, wearing the Duchess of Cambridge Pendant Brooch. 

From Getty Images. 

Because of the state of the queen’s health, the palace announced her schedule won’t be finalized until each morning, and she dropped out of some of the classic events, like the Epsom Derby. She might not have an opportunity to revisit some of the most spectacular pieces that she has brought out for previous jubilee banquets, but her choices in the past do illustrate exactly what the jubilees mean to her. During the Silver Jubilee, the queen kept returning to one brooch in particular, the Duchess of Cambridge’s pendant brooch, which features a round pearl with 14 brilliant cut diamonds, along with a hanging baroque (teardrop-shaped) pearl. She wore it in a set of casual Balmoral portraits released to celebrate the jubilee, and brought it back during a trip to New Zealand. 

A November 1977 trip to Barbados saw her break out a brooch from the Delhi Durbar parure, a set of necklaces, earrings, and brooches all set with the Cambridge emeralds. The set was designed to stand-in for the crown jewels on a trip to India that George V and Queen Mary took in 1911. Another favorite was the Cullinan heart brooch originally belonging to Mary. During a banquet for the event, she wore a relatively new tiara made of Burmese rubies that she received as a wedding present, along with a set of Mary’s ruby earrings and a Baring ruby necklace she acquired herself.

For her Golden Jubilee celebrations, some of her jewelry referenced her father, George VI, and the Queen Mother, who died just over a month before the celebrations. For a Ritz Hotel party, she wore a sapphire set featuring her necklace commissioned by her father. For the pop concert “Party at the Palace” she wore the King William IV brooch that her mother wore on the day of her coronation. She also wore a few of her longtime favorites, like the Guards brooch, with a diamond ER insignia, she often wears to Trooping the Colour. For service of thanksgiving, she wore the London Lily brooch, which was given to her by the City of London on one of her first solo engagements in 1947.