A stunning Royal presentation diamond brooch given by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to Lavina, Duchess of Norfolk, for assistance prior to her Coronation in 1953, sold today (Tuesday, June 14, 2022) for £180,000 to an European Collector at Mayfair Auctioneers Noonans
in a sale of Jewellery, Watches and Objects of Vertu.
Formerly the property of Lavinia Fitzalan-Howard, Duchess of Norfolk, the diamond and platinum brooch by Garrard & Co. Ltd. was modelled in the form of the letters ER in the Queens own handwriting, and signed to the reverse With grateful thanks.
As Frances Noble, Head of the Jewellery Department and Associate Director at Noonans, explains: The Duchess stood in for The Queen during the rehearsals held at Westminster Abbey in the lead up to the Coronation on 2 June 1953. As Earl Marshall of England, the Duchess of Norfolks husband, Bernard Fitzalan-Howard, 16th Duke of Norfolk, had overall responsibility for the organisation of the Coronation, and indeed he had also planned the Coronation of King George VI in 1937.
She continues: Six identical brooches to this example were also given to the six Maids of Honour, who attended the Queen at the Coronation - Lady Jane Vane-Tempest-Stewart, Lady Anne Coke (later Lady Anne Glenconner), Lady Moyra Hamilton, Lady Mary Baillie-Hamilton, Lady Jane Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, and Lady Rosemary Spencer-Churchill. This is the first time that one of these brooches has been offered for sale at auction. The brooch was accompanied by a handwritten letter from Her Majesty the Queen addressed to Lavinia, Duchess of Norfolk and dated 4 June 1953, two days after the Coronation, in which she expressed her thanks to the Duchess:
I write to express my heartfelt thanks to you for standing in for me in the Abbey in the weeks leading up to my coronation. It was extremely kind of you to be there to support me at such an important moment of ones life, and it gave me such tremendous confidence to know all was ready before the service. The Archbishop was very grateful for all your patient help and Mummy hopes that my understudy will be available when I am next ill in bed!!
I hope you will accept this small gift, which was Philips inspired idea, as an enduring reminder of my appreciation.
Known for her charitable interests, the Duchess of Norfolk donated the brooch to raise funds for the Foreign and British Bible Society in 1956, the funds contributing to the Societys new headquarters in Canberra, Australia, which were formerly opened in 1960.
Consigned to Noonans from Australia, the brooch came with a copy of a typed and signed letter, dated 8 February 1960, from Mr Anthony Elder, the Chairman of The British and Foreign Bible Society, addressed to Mr Edward Clark of Epping Gospel Church, New South Wales, Australia. The letter confirmed that the Coronation Diamond Pin was donated to the Society in lieu of a monetary contribution by Her Grace the Duchess of Norfolk. To add to the fascinating history of this piece, it was not the Duchess herself who presented the society with the brooch but a Mr Lindwall at Arundel on behalf of the Commonwealth Council, who acted as the emissary.
It turned out that Mr Ray Lindwall, M.B.E., the famous Australian cricketer, widely regarded as the greatest fast bowler of his time, who was on tour in England with the Australian cricket team for the 1956 Ashes tour. It was during this tour that in April of that year the Australian national team played an exhibition match against the Duke of Norfolks XI in Arundel, Sussex Arundel Castle is the seat of the Dukes of Norfolk.
At some point during the proceedings, the Duchess of Norfolk gave the brooch to Lindwall so that he could pass it on to The British and Foreign Bible Society via The Commonwealth Council.
Following the sale, Frances Noble commented: We were delighted with the exceptional price achieved for the Queens presentation brooch. The timing of the auction so close to the Queens Jubilee, its impeccable provenance and the very personal nature of the brooch being gifted by the Queen to The Duchess of Norfolk led to a huge amount of presale interest from all over the world. The ensuing bidding frenzy that took the best part of ten minutes to play out in our auction room is a testament to many hours of painstaking research and a perfect example of the additional value that an emotive back story and Royal connection can bring.
The sale also include an exquisite Art Deco diamond brooch formerly the property of Her Royal Highness The Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon. Dating from circa 1930, the geometrically designed brooch is mounted in platinum and was bought by the current vendor from an auction at Sothebys in 1979, which had included a collection of seven jewels sold on behalf of Princess Margaret. The diamond brooch sold for £60,000 against an estimate of £6,000-8,000 and following a tense battle between three phone bidders, was purchased by a European Collector.