The book, The Grit and Glamour of an Icon by Kate Andersen Brower, details how Elizabeth Taylor came to own one of the pieces of authentic royal jewelry. According to the article, Elizabeth first met the Duke and Duchess of Windsor when she was married to Nicky Hilton. But it was Elizabeth’s affair with Richard Burton that drew the couple to her. Elizabeth and Richard Burton found unlikely allies in Edward and Wallis – another couple no stranger to public condemnation.
Wallis Simpson was so envious of Elizabeth’s notorious jewelry collection that she only wore her largest sapphire and not her diamond when she was around Elizabeth, the article explains. It was at one such meeting that Elizabeth noticed a magnificent pin Simpson was wearing that was the insignia of the Prince of Wales, with three feathers and a gold crown made of diamonds set in platinum. When Elizabeth asked if it was the royal insignia, Simpson said, “Yes, and when Monty [Lord Mountbatten] came over, he took all royal pieces back, but he missed this one.” Elizabeth found it charming that Wallis would hold onto a jewel that clearly meant a lot to her husband, who had to walk away from the throne for their love.
Years later, after Wallis had died, the pin was up for auction in a charity, and Elizabeth Taylor bought the Prince of Wales brooch for $565,000, as she believed that “The Duchess wants me to have that.” The brooch is no longer in Elizabeth’s possession as it was likely sold in a private auction, but the article emphasizes how the notable absence of the Prince of Wales brooch from the royal vaults could be why the likes of Diana and Catherine – the former and current Princess of Wales – have opted to wear the Prince of Wales Feathers brooch instead. The Prince of Wales feather pendant brooch is an 1863 wedding gift to Princess Alexandra of Denmark from the Ladies of North Wales when she married the Prince of Wales.
The story of the Prince of Wales brooch and how it ended up with Elizabeth Taylor shines a light on themes of love, loyalty, and the significance of material objects in our lives. It also highlights the power of personal connections and unlikely alliances. This article serves as a reminder that the history of objects, be they jewels or others, is often intimately tied to the history of the people who possessed or adored them, and the circumstances that brought them into their lives.
<< photo by Olga Kalinina >>
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