Today marks the 120th Anniversary of the Birth of Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, the longest-lived member of the Royal Family, who was born on this day in 1901! at the age of 102. A daughter of the fabulously wealthy Duke of Buccleuch and a daughter-in-law of King George V and Queen Mary, the Duchess was the longest-lived member of the Royal Family, and possessed a fabulous collection of jewellery, one of the highlights of which was her Diamond Knot Brooch!
A spectacular Diamond Brooch in the form of a ‘knot’, with a fringe of diamonds suspended from two elements, this Brooch was made around 1860, described as
The delicately crafted ribbon brooch centring on an Old Mine-cut diamond weighing approximately 5.00 carats, supporting a fringe of six pear-shaped diamonds together weighing approximately 8.20 carats, to an openwork ribbon set with circular-cut diamonds together weighing approximately 16.00 carats, mounted in silver-topped gold.
The Diamond Knot Brooch was acquired by Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, the fourth child of King George V and Queen Mary, to give as a Wedding Gift to Lady Alice Montagu-Douglas-Scott, ahead of their Wedding at Buckingham Palace just weeks after the death of her father and a few weeks before the death of his.
The Diamond Knot Brooch soon became a favourite of Duchess of Gloucester who wore it for many spectacular Gala Events and portraits, often with the Gloucester Honeysuckle Tiara, the Teck Turquoise Tiara and her Diamond Bandeau Tiara, most notably for a series of portraits taken by Dorothy Wilding in the late 1930s as well as for the Queen Charlotte’s Ball.
The Duchess of Gloucester continued to wear the Diamond Knot Brooch for years afterwards, usually with the Gloucester Honeysuckle Tiara or the Iveagh Tiara, with notable appearences at a Banquet at Nepalese Embassy in 1960, the State Opening of Parliament in 1960, the Premiere of Lord Mountbatten: A Man for the Century in 1968, Japanese State Banquet at Buckingham Palace in 1971, and in a notable series of Portraits taken by Cecil Beaton and Dorothy Wilding.
Princess Alice stopped attending gala events by the mid-1980s, and thus there were no appearences of the Brooch from after that time. Quite unusually, this was one of the few pieces never worn by the current Duchess of Gloucester. The Duke and Duchess had gotten into some financial difficulties around this time, which led to their home, Barnwell Manor, being put on rent. While the Duke and Duchess have managed to keep the majority of their fabulous jewellery collection intact, it was likely around this time that the Diamond Knot Brooch was discreetly sold, though it could also have been sold after Princess Alice’s death in 2004, at the age of 102. A subsequent owner put the Duchess of Gloucester’s Diamond Knot Brooch at Auction at Sotheby’s in 2012, when it sold for £151,007. The current owner is unknown.