Bridesmaids Eagle Brooch
When Queen Victoria married Prince Albert on the afternoon of 10 February 1840 in the Chapel Royal, St. James’s Palace, she had twelve bridesmaids to carry her train. The young ladies were all unmarried daughters of prominent peers who were chosen in accordance to rank rather than character as Prince Albert had requested.
- Lady Mary Howard (1822–1897), granddaughter of Bernard Howard, 12th Duke of Norfolk
- Lady Caroline Gordon-Lennox (1819–1890), daughter of Charles Gordon-Lennox, 5th Duke of Richmond and Lennox
- Lady Adelaide Paget (d.1890), daughter of Henry Paget, 1st Marquess of Anglesey
- Hon. Eleanora Paget (d.1848), granddaughter of Henry Paget, 1st Marquess of Anglesey
- Lady Elizabeth Howard (d.1891), daughter of George Howard, 6th Earl of Carlisle
- Lady Wilhelmina Stanhope (1819-1901), daughter of Philip Henry, 4th Earl Stanhope
- Lady Sarah Villiers (1822–1853), daughter of George Child Villiers, 5th Earl of Jersey
- Lady Elizabeth Sackville-West (1818-1897), daughter of George Sackville-West, 5th Earl De La Warr
- Lady Ida Hay (1821–1867), daughter of William Hay, 18th Earl of Erroll
- Lady Frances Cowper (1820–1880), daughter of Peter Clavering-Cowper, 5th Earl Cowper
- Lady Mary Grimston (1821–1879), daughter of James Grimston, 1st Earl of Verulam
- Lady Jane Pleydell-Bouverie (1819–1903), daughter of William Pleydell-Bouverie, 3rd Earl of Radnor
The bridesmaids were presented with an eagle brooch in a blue velvet box. The brooch designed by Prince Albert and made by the London jeweller Charles du Vé who was contracted to the firm of R. & S. Garrard, the royal jewellers. The design and the stones used are all symbolic as the turquoise is the pledge of love in German lore and to the Victorians, eagles symbolised nobility, strength, courage, mortality, wisdom and power.
The eagle, representing the House of Coburg, is set with turquoise (the colour of forget-me-not flowers, symbolises luck), while the eyes are set with rubies (passion) and the beak with diamonds (eternity). The pearls clasped in golden claws represent true love.
The Royal Collection has two of these brooches in their possession, while at least three others are in private collections.