The story of the queen's sapphire brooch: a subtle tribute to Prince Philip

Paying tribute to her late husband in her annual Christmas speech, Queen Elizabeth II chose a sentimental piece of jewellery for the occasion

Queen Elizabeth II records her annual Christmas broadcast in the White Drawing Room in Windsor Castle. She is seen wearing the chrysanthemum sapphire brooch in tribute to her late husband. Getty Images
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Queen Elizabeth II’s annual Christmas address for 2021 was deeply personal, in more ways than one.

At her first Christmas without her husband of 73 years, Prince Philip, the queen, who is the longest-reigning British monarch in history, addressed the public for the 69th time.

During her annual Christmas speech, it is traditional for the queen to pay tribute to the notable events from the year, but it took a personal tone this time, as she paid tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh, who died in April aged 99.

She spoke of the sorrow of losing loved ones, so keenly felt during times of family celebration. "Christmas can be hard for those who have lost loved ones. This year especially, I understand why," she said.

As usual, the address was pre-recorded, this year in the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle, where she has chosen to spend the holiday period instead of Sandringham Estate where she usually spends Christmas, owing to the spread of the new Covid-19 variant, Omicron.

As well as remembering Prince Philip in her words, she offered another, more discreet homage. Clad in a vivid red top, the queen adorned it with her signature triple string pearls and a large, sapphire and white diamond brooch.

In a framed photograph of her and her husband on the desk next to her during the speech, taken during celebrations of their diamond wedding anniversary in 2007, the queen could be seen wearing the same blue brooch.

The photograph, taken at Broadlands Country House, was a significant one for the couple, as it's where they spent their wedding night on November 20, 1947.

In a photo taken in the same spot following their wedding, t then Princess Elizabeth can be seen wearing the same sapphire brooch.

Shaped like a chrysanthemum flower, with petals of white diamonds, it is believed the brooch was given to the princess in 1946 after she helped launch an oil tanker, appropriately named the British Princess.

She wore it again for an official family portrait in 1951, showing both the queen and her husband, and their children, Prince Charles, and a baby Princess Anne. So often seen at key moments in her family life with the late prince, it is fair to assume it was a personal favourite of the duke, who she described in her speech as being “irrepressible” and as her “beloved.”

Updated: December 26, 2021, 11:57 AM