Today marks the 20th Anniversary of the Death of Princess Sophie of Greece and Hannover, who died on this day in 2001! The sister of the late Duke of Edinburgh, Princess Sophie was married first to Prince Christoph of Hesse and then after his untimely death during the Second World War, married Prince George William of Hanover, being a constant presence at Greek, British, and German Royal events throughout the 20th century. To mark the anniversary we are featuring one of Princess Sophie’s most important Heirloom Jewels: The Hesse Emerald Brooch!
Hanover Emerald Laurel Wreath Tiara | Hesse Emerald Tiara | Hesse Emerald Brooch
The antique emerald and diamond brooch, consisting of a detachable emerald and diamond cluster centre in diamond foliage set with emeralds, suspending two small emerald and diamond drops and three pear-shaped emeralds and diamond pendants, originally dates to 1830, and belonged to Princess Elisabeth of Prussia, Princess Charles of Hesse and by Rhine.
Princess Elisabeth gave the Brooch, along with an emerald cross pendant and a pair of earrings, to her granddaughter, Princess Victoria of Hesse, when she married Prince Louis of Battenberg, later Marques of Milford Haven, in 1884, a year before her own death. The Emerald brooch seems to have been one of the few jewels that Princess Victoria did not take on a trip to visit her sisters, Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna and Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, in Russia in 1914, when the First World War broke out and she left her jewels in Russia for safekeeping, which were lost during the Russian Revolution.
The Hesse Emerald Brooch seems to been among the jewels given by Princess Victoria to her younger daughter, Lady Louise Mountbatten, when she married Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf of Sweden in 1923. The then Crown Princess Louise notably wore the Brooch and Emerald Cross with Queen Sofia’s 9-Prong Tiara for an Official Portrait taken in the 1930s.
Embed from Getty Images
In 1946, Crown Princess Louise’s widowed niece, Princess Sophie of Greece, daughter of Prince Andrew of Greece and Princess Alice of Battenberg and widow of Prince Christoph of Hesse, was remarrying to Prince George William of Hanover, son of the Duke of Brunswick and Princess Victoria Louise of Prussia. Soon after the Second World War, the Hesse Family Jewels were buried at the family home, Schloss Friedrichshof, which was requisitioned to be used as a club by American Soldiers, who then discovered and stole the jewels, with the theft not discovered until Princess Sophie was preparing for her second marriage. To compensate for the loss of her niece’s jewels, it seems the childless soon to be Queen Louise presented her with the Hesse Emerald Brooch and the Emerald Cross for the wedding, which happened within the lifetime of Princess Victoria.
Princess Sophie also received Hanover Emerald Laurel Wreath Tiara the as a wedding gift from her mother-in-law, Princess Victoria Louise, the Duchess of Brunswick, which made a splendid pairing with the Hesse Emerald Brooch and Cross. Princess Sophie notably wore the Brooch for a series of spectacular events including the Wedding Ball of her brother-in-law, Prince Ernest Augustus, and Princess Ortrud of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg in 1951, the Coronation of her sister-in-law, Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, the Wedding of her daughter, Princess Dorothea of Hesse, and Prince Friedrich Karl of Windisch-Grätz in 1959, the Wedding of her cousin, Lady Pamela Mountbatten in 1960, and the 60th Birthday Banquet for her cousin, King Paul of Greece, at the Royal Palace of Athens in 1961.
Embed from Getty Images
Embed from Getty Images
Princess Sophie also wore the Hesse Emerald Brooch for the Wedding Ball of Prince Juan Carlos of Spain and Princess Sophia of Greece in 1962, the Wedding of her son, Prince Karl of Hesse, and Countess Yvonne Szapary von Muraszombath Széchysziget und Szapár in 1966. and for the last time, at the Wedding of her nephew, the Prince of Wales, and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981.
Soon after the Wedding of the Prince of Wales, Prince George William and Princess Sophie had to sell some jewels, including the Hanover Emerald Laurel Wreath Tiara, and the Hesse Emerald Brooch seems to have been one of the victims. The Brooch acquired by Prince Johannes of Thurn und Taxis for his wife, the flamboyant Princess Gloria, who wore it with the Thurn und Taxis Emerald Parure and Emerald Earrings bought from Princess Sophie’s cousin, Princess Olga of Yugoslavia. However, when Prince Johannes died in 1990, he left debts of $500 million, and Princess Gloria, who acted as the trustee for her underage son, sold off jewellery and other assets to preserve the family fortune, among which was the Hesse Emerald Brooch, with its current location now unknown!