The Queen's Famous Brooches Have Special Hidden Meanings

The brooch she wore to Will and Kate's wedding has a romantic history.

queen elizabeth
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Queen is not afraid of bold and unique fashion choices. The monarch famously wears bright, eye-grabbing outfits in a rainbow array of colors so that she's easy to spot at events—seriously. "She needs to stand out for people to be able to say 'I saw the Queen,'" Sophie, Countess of Wessex explained (opens in new tab) in the documentary The Queen at 90."Don't forget that when she turns up somewhere, the crowds are two, three, four, ten, 15 deep, and someone wants to be able to say they saw a bit of the Queen's hat as she went past."

While the meaning behind the Queen's colorful wardrobe is pretty well known, there's another regular part of her look that's laden with deeper and sometimes hidden meanings: Her brooches. A lot of the brooches in the Queen's collection have been passed down through the generations in the royal family (she's even passed a few down to younger royals like Kate Middleton) and, often, the Queen chooses a brooch that has a special meaning or history that's tied to the event at hand. Here are the special stories and meanings behind some of the monarch's favorite and most famous brooches.

1. The Flower Basket Brooch

queen elizabeth

(Image credit: Pool)

The Queen's parents gave her the Flower Basket Brooch (opens in new tab) in 1948, when Prince Charles was born. She wore the piece in Charles' first official portraits and then again 65 years later for her great-grandson, Prince George's, christening in 2013. That year, she wore it yet again for her Christmas address, sitting in front of a picture from George's christening and one of her late father, King George VI.

2. The Chrysanthemum Brooch

queen elizabeth, prince philip

(Image credit: Topical Press Agency)

The Queen famously wore the sapphire and diamond Chrysanthemum Brooch (opens in new tab) for her honeymoon portraits with Prince Philip in 1947. That's why it was so romantic when she wore the brooch again in 2007 for her and Philip's 60th wedding anniversary. She's also worn the Chrysanthemum Brooch for other important family occasions, like a family portrait with Philip, Princess Anne and Prince Charles in 1950.

3. The True Lover’s Knot Brooch

queen elizabeth

(Image credit: Chris Jackson)

The True Lover's Knot brooch (opens in new tab) has a romantic name, so it's appropriate that the Queen has worn it on some very romantic occasions. She wore it in 1960 to her sister, Princess Margaret's, wedding. And, in 2011, she famously wore the piece, which has scalloped edges and tassels set with gorgeous diamonds, to the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. This is an example of a brooch with a strong sense of royal history, as well. It originally belonged to the Queen's grandmother, Queen Mary.

4. The Scarab Brooch

queen elizabeth

(Image credit: Christopher Furlong)

Another of Queen Elizabeth II's most romantic brooches is the Scarab Brooch (opens in new tab), which she received as a gift from her husband, Prince Philip, in 1996. The stunning piece is made of gold, diamonds, and rubies. The Queen has worn it several times, including, appropriately, for her 70th wedding anniversary portrait with Philip.

5. The Centenary Rose Brooch

queen elizabeth

(Image credit: Max Mumby/Indigo)

The Centenary Rose Brooch (opens in new tab) is one of the Queen's most sentimental pieces of jewelry, hard stop. The piece was actually a birthday gift that Queen Elizabeth II had made for the Queen Mother's 100th birthday in 2000. The special meaning doesn't stop there, though. The rose on the brooch is actually the Queen Elizabeth Grandiflora Rose, which was bred specifically in honor of Elizabeth's coronation. When the Queen Mother died in 2002, the brooch became Elizabeth's and she wore it for her Christmas address later that year.

6. The Courtauld Thomson Scallop-Shell Brooch

queen elizabeth

(Image credit: Max Mumby/Indigo)

The Courtauld Thomson Scallop-Shell Brooch (opens in new tab) was a favorite of Queen Elizabeth's mother, the Queen Mother, who received it from writer Winifred Hope Thomson, who left it to her in 1944. The brooch was made by Goldsmiths and Silversmiths Co., Ltd. in 1919 and features a single round pearl surrounded by diamonds in a gorgeous shell shape. The Queen has worn the piece several times over the years, sometimes at events with a connection to her late mother, like in February 2009 when she wore it to the unveiling of a statue of the Queen Mother on the Mall.

7. The New Zealand Silver Fern Brooch

kate middleton

(Image credit: Samir Hussein)

The New Zealand Silver Fern Brooch (opens in new tab) is a stunning diamond and platinum piece that was given to the Queen in 1953 by Lady Allum, the wife of the Mayor of Auckland, on behalf of the women of Auckland. As a result, the Queen has frequently worn the piece when visiting New Zealand and even loaned it to Kate Middleton in 2014 for her trip to the country.

Kayleigh Roberts is a freelance writer and editor with more than 10 years of professional experience. Her byline has appeared in Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, The Atlantic, Allure, Entertainment Weekly, MTV, Bustle, Refinery29, Girls’ Life Magazine, Just Jared, and Tiger Beat, among other publications. She's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.