Today marks the Anniversary of the Birth of Queen Mary, the Queen’s grandmother, who was born on this day in 1867. The complier of much of the magnificent jewellery collection of the British Royal Family, a lot of Queen Mary’s jewels are frequently seen on the Queen these days, and so to mark the anniversary today, we are featuring Queen Mary’s Diamond Stomacher!
Composed of three brooches of graduated size, made of diamonds set in gold, each including three pear-shaped pendants and two brilliant pendants, this splendid Diamond Stomacher was made for Queen Mary in 1920, using a diamond stomacher given to her as a Wedding Gift by the Maharajah of Karpurthala and a diamond crescent that was a wedding gift from the town of Swansea in 1893. Stomachers are massive pieces of jewellery to be worn on the front of the bodice, though by 1920 they were largely out of fashion.
Queen Mary notably wore her Diamond Stomacher with her Delhi Durbar Tiara for a State Banquet in honour of the Belgian Royal Family at Buckingham Palace in 1922, at which new Official Portraits were taken, which seems to be the only time she was publicly pictured wearing the piece.
In 1947, Queen Mary gave the Diamond Stomacher as a wedding gift to her granddaughter, Princess Elizabeth, when she married Prince Phillip of Greece, along with many splendid wedding gifts, most prominently the Girls of Great Britain & Ireland Tiara, which were displayed at St James’ Palace in the days leading up to the wedding.
Such a massive jewel was too much for the young Princess, and she wore just the bottom portion a few times in the 1940s, most prominently with the Nizam of Hyderabad Tiara on a visit to Paris in 1948. After becoming Queen in 1952, the Stomacher Brooch was worn with the George IV State Diadem for one of her earliest portraits, in Hobart in 1954, and also on her first State Visit, to Norway, in 1955. A rare daytime appearance came in Canada in 1959, when the Queen joined American President Eisenhower to jointly open the St Lawrence Seaway.
After the later 1950s, appearences of Queen Mary’s Diamond Stomacher were very rare, but in 2002, the full stomacher was worn by the Queen for the first and only time in public for her Golden Jubilee Dinner at Windsor Castle, when it was paired with the Nizam of Hyderabad Necklace, another wedding gift. The Diamond Stomacher has been displayed at Buckingham Palace in recent years but it is unlikely we will see it worn again anytime soon.