Today marks the 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 the Duchess of Brunswick’s Köchert Diamond Devant-de-Corsage, which was sold at Auction earlier this month!
A Köchert Diamond Devant-de-Corsage of openwork bow and swirl design, which has detachable motifs, with fittings to be worn as a pendant and brooch, the piece was bought by King George V and Queen Mary as a wedding gift for Princess Victoria Louise of Prussia, daughter of the King’s cousin, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, when she married Prince Ernst August of Hanover, Duke of Brunswick, the King’s first cousin, in 1913, in the midst of grand celebrations which were the last gathering of European Royalty before the outbreak of the First World War. The Corsage can be worn in its entirety, or as a smaller bow brooch with or without a pendant, while the central cluster also detaches.
Princess Victoria Louise of Prussia, Duchess of Brunswick-Lüneburg wrote in her autobiography that she received a impressive gold vessel and “a brilliant brooch with a brilliant tassel as a pendant” from her British Royal Cousins, and wore the Köchert Devant-de-Corsage for a portrait with two of her sons in 1915, retaining it after the Fall of the German Monarchy in 1918.
In 1946, when 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, the second son of the Duke of Brunswick and Princess Victoria Louise of Prussia, she discovered that the theft of the Hesse Family Jewels, which had been buried at the family home, Schloss Friedrichshof when it was requisitioned to be used as a club by American Soldiers, who then discovered and stole the jewels, with the theft not discovered by the family until Princess Sophie was preparing for her second marriage.
To compensate for her loss, Princess Sophie received the Hesse Emerald Corsage Brooch and the Hesse Emerald Cross from her aunt, Queen Louise of Sweden, while her new mother-in-law, Princess Victoria Louise, gave her the use of the Hanover Emerald Laurel Wreath Tiara and her Köchert Diamond Devant-de-Corsage, which she soon began wearing for Royal Events, being with the Wedding of King Michael of Romania and Princess Anne of Bourbon-Parma in 1948.
While Princess Sophie usually wore the Hesse Emerald Corsage Brooch with the Emerald Laurel Wreath Tiara, the Köchert Diamond Devant-de-Corsage was worn for a number of prominent occasions, including the the Ball at the Royal Palace of Athens and the Wedding of Prince Juan Carlos of Spain and her niece, Princess Sophia of Greece, in 1962, representing Princess Victoria Louise (grandmother of the bride) through jewels since she was not invited.
Later, Princess Sophie wore the Köchert Diamond Devant-de-Corsage at the Wedding of Prince Moritz of Hesse and Princess Tatiana of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg in 1964, and later that year, it was worn with the Emerald Laurel Wreath Tiara for the Wedding Ball of her nephew, King Constantine II of Greece, and Princess Anne Marie of Denmark at the Royal Palace in Athens, though this time the Duchess of Brunswick was present.
In 1974, the Köchert Diamond Devant-de-Corsage was among the jewels sold by Princess Victoria Louise at the Bern-based auction house Jürg Stuker, lot 1542, passing to unknown owners until this month, when it appeared at Auction at the Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels Sale earlier this month, with an auction estimate of 30,000 – 50,000 CHF. The Köchert Devant-de-Corsage eventually sold for 107,100 CHF, again to an unknown owner.