Today marks the 80th Anniversary of the Death of Prince George, Duke of Kent, who died in a plane crash during the Second World War on this day in 1942! The dashing Prince married to the glamorous Princess Marina, Prince George was the first member of the royal family to die on active service in more than 450 years. To mark the anniversary, we are featuring the last gift given by Prince George to Princess Marina just weeks before his death; The Cartier Pansy Brooch!
Composed of diamonds, sapphires, and emeralds set in the form of a wild pansy, this striking Cartier Brooch was given as a gift to Princess Marina to mark the birth of their third child, Prince Michael, first worn for the Christening of Prince Michael at Windsor Castle just a few days before Prince George’s Death. The Brooch was described by the Princess in a letter to her sister, Princess Olga of Yugoslavia, then in exile in Kenya:
By a cruel twist of fate, on 28 August, the Princess received a letter from Marina (dated a month earlier) in which she described, in detail, a new brooch Prince George had given her as a souvenir of Michael’s birth. She had also enclosed some snaps of herself with her new-born baby and this only served to further torment her sister who bewailed, ‘How I ache to see her
Princess Marina wore the Brooch only a couple of times in the 1940s and 50s, not only because of the sad memories but also because it was likely hard to style for the chic and understated Princess Marina.
After Princess Marina’s death in 1968, the Cartier Flower Brooch, along with many jewels including her Festoon Tiara, the City of London Fringe Tiara, the Vladimir Pearl Earrings, Sapphire Clips, and Princess Louise’s Daisy Brooches, were inherited by her younger son, Prince Michael of Kent, whose wife Princess Michael began wearing the Brooch soon after her wedding in 1978, most notably for the Wedding of Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 and the Wedding of the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall in 2005.
In addition to wearing the piece more traditionally as a Brooch, Princess Michael has also worn it as the centrepiece of a thick beaded necklace, which was most notably worn for the Wedding of the Earl of Wessex in 1999. The Cartier Flower Brooch has only made a couple of appearances in recent years, most recently for the Queen’s 92nd Birthday Concert in 2018, but as it corresponds well to Princess Michael’s flamboyant style, there is no doubt it will continue to be worn for years to come!