Bridesmaids Eagle Brooch

The Royal Collection

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.

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.

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