The Queen's brooches are so much more than just sparkly accessories

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Queen Elizabeth
| Credit: Ben Stansall - WPA Pool/Getty

Queen Elizabeth often uses her brooches to convey a message to the world.

Many of the priceless and heavily embellished pieces have been handed down through generations of her family, so they have their own sentimental story to tell.

One example is the Flower Basket Brooch, which was given to the Queen in 1948 by her parents upon the birth of Prince Charles. She wore it a few weeks later for his first official photographs. In 2013, she wore it again, this time to the christening of her great-grandson Prince George. That Christmas she further drove home the symbolic message wearing it for her annual festive speech, with framed pictures of George's christening and of her father, King George VI behind her.

Queen Elizabeth
Queen Elizabeth wears the Flower Basket Brooch for her Christmas speech in 2013
| Credit: John Stillwell - WPA Pool/Getty

In a romantic nod to her husband of 72 years Prince Philip, the Queen celebrated their most recent wedding anniversary in November 2020 by wearing the Chrysanthemum Brooch, a sapphire and diamond pin she wore for a series of portraits taken with him on their honeymoon in 1947. It was the very same brooch she chose in 2007 to mark their 60th wedding anniversary.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip on their honeymoon in 1947
| Credit: Central Press/Getty

She also wears her brooches to remember those she has loved and lost. The Centenary Rose Brooch is one such example. Commissioned by the Queen to mark her beloved mother's 100th birthday in 2000, the brooch which features a hand-painted rose (the Queen Elizabeth Grandiflora Rose, bred to mark the Queen's coronation) surrounded by 100 diamonds was worn to deliver her Christmas speech in 2002, just months after her mother's death.

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The Queen wearing the Centenary Rose Brooch in March 2008 for the Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey
| Credit: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty

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Another brooch that the Queen sentimentally wears in honor of her mother is the Courtauld Thomson Scallop-Shell Brooch as it was a favorite of the Queen Mother's. Featuring a shell motif in diamonds studded with a single round pearl, the Queen wore it to unveil a statue of her mother on the Mall in February 2009.

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Queen Elizabeth wearing her mother's favorite Scallop-Shell brooch during a trip to Canada in 2010

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In addition to wearing her brooches for sentimental purposes, the Queen also uses them as a diplomatic gesture on foreign trips overseas. It's a sartorial tip she has passed onto Kate Middleton, who borrowed the Queen's Diamond Maple Leaf brooch during her first tour of the country in 2011 and again in 2016.