Today marks the 55th Anniversary of the Death of Grand Duchess Kira Kirillovna, the Princess of Prussia, who passed away on this day in 1967! The exiled Russian Grand Duchess who married the Head of the House of Hohenzollern, Grand Duchess Kira possessed some spectacular Prussian Royal Heirlooms, but she also owned a special British Royal Heirloom: Princess Victoria Melita’s English Rose Brooch!
Formed in the shape of a rose, set with a pear-shaped diamond within a surround of cushion-shaped, single-cut and rose diamonds, this ‘English Rose’ Brooch was a gift from Queen Victoria to her granddaughter, Princess Victoria Melita of Edinburgh and Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, to mark her christening in 1876.
Princess Victoria Melita was notably pictured wearing the English Rose Brooch when she married her paternal first cousin, Grand Duke of Hesse, in 1894, a unhappy match arranged by Queen Victoria, with the couple divorcing soon after her death in 1901, and the Princess marrying another cousin, Grand Duke Kirill of Russia, who became the Head of the House of Romanov after the events of the Bolshevik Revolution, with the family narrowly escaping into exile.
In exile, the family were forced to sell most of their jewels, including the Vladimir Sapphire Kokoshnik, her Greek Key Tiara, Emerald Tiara and Cartier Sapphire Necklace, but retained some pieces like a Diamond Necklace, and this Brooch which was inherited by the Grand Duchess’ younger daughter, Grand Duchess Kira Kirillovna, in 1936, and prominently worn when she married Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia, a grandson of Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1938.
Grand Duchess Kira also wore the Brooch for a series of portraits taken around the time of her Wedding, and though the Brooch was not publicly worn, it remained with her descendants until 2014, when Princess Victoria Melita’s English Rose Brooch was sold at Auction at Sotheby’s. The current location is unknown.