Today marks the 125th Anniversary of the Birth of Doreen Knatchbull, Baroness Brabourne, who was born on this day in 1896! The daughter of the illustrious Irish Aristocrat who married a prominent Baron that became the Governor of Bombay and the Governor of Bengal, Lady Brabourne is more known for being the mother-in-law of Countess Mountbatten, and was one of the victims of the assassination of Lord Mountbatten. To mark the anniversary, we are featuring her splendid Art Deco Tiara and Parure, which we have been researching for many years!
But first, lets learn about Lady Brabourne! The third daughter of the 6th Marquess and Marchioness of Sligo, Lady Doreen Browne grew up at Westport House, the family seat of the Marquesses of Sligo, in Ireland. In 1919, Lady Doreen married Hon. Michael Knatchbull, son of the 4th Baron Brabourne, who succeeded his father as the 5th Baron Brabourne in 1933. The couple had two sons, the later 6th Baron Brabourne, who died during the Second World War, and the 7th Baron Brabourne, who married Countess Mountbatten. Lord Brabourne, served as Governor of Bombay from 1933 until 1937, and then as Governor of Bengal from 1937 until his death in 1939, also serving as the Acting Viceroy of India in 1938. The Dowager Lady Brabourne was active in British Society for the next few decades, and was seriously injured in an explosion which killed Lord Mountbatten and their grandson Nicholas, which had been planted by the IRA to assassinate Lord Mountbatten, passing away in hospital the following day.
Designed as a series of diamond-set geometric panels to the central old-cut diamond pendant and quatrefoil cluster (detachable to form a brooch), the Tiara was made and acquired by Lady Brabourne around 1925, and was usually worn with a magnificent Art Deco emerald and diamond suite, which included a sautoir, bracelets, and brooches, and the sautoir could also be worn as a Tiara.
The splendid Brabourne Tiara and Art Deco Parure were worn by Lady Brabourne for multiple series of Official Portraits taken during Lord Brabourne’s time as the Governor of Bombay and the Governor of Bengal, as well as for countless viceregal receptions. Lady Brabourne also wore elements of the Sautoir as brooches at the Wedding of her son, Lord Brabourne, to the Hon. Patricia Mountbatten (later the 2nd Countess Mountbatten) in 1946.
The Art Deco Sautoir was put on a tiara frame and worn by the later Countess Mountbatten (then Lady Brabourne) at the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, the wife of her first cousin, the Duke of Edinburgh. She paired the Tiara with splendid diamond earrings that also belonged to her mother-in-law, Lady Brabourne.
In 1985, Mellisa Owen wore the Necklace Tiara for her wedding to Hon. Michael-John Ulick Knatchbull, the second son of Lord Brabourne and Countess Mountbatten. Some parts of the suite were sold at Auction in 1971, the rest in the 1990s, and the Tiara was sold at Christie’s in 2002. A lot of the other jewels of Doreen, Lady Brabourne were sold at auction at Sothebys earlier this year.