Queen Elizabeth: Her Majesty wore a sapphire brooch for a new royal photo released today
The Queen and her family beam in the image – but royal fans may find their attention is caught by the magnificent brooch Her Majesty is wearing. The piece is the Empress Maria Feodorovna’s Sapphire Brooch, and dates back to 1866.
During that year, King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra (then the Prince and Princess of Wales) presented the brooch to Alexandra’s sister Minnie to celebrate her marriage to the future Emperor Alexander III of Russia.
Following her marriage, Minnie went on to be known as Empress Maria Feodorovna, which is how the piece got its name.
It is a cabochon sapphire brooch surrounded by two rows of diamonds, and has a pearl drop hanging from another diamond.
The brooch is one of the few pieces that survived after Minnie was forced to flee Russia following the murder of her son, Tsar Nicholas II, and the abolition of the Russian monarchy.
READ MORE: Kate Middleton brooch: How Queen gave Kate Royal Order brooch – why it’s so special to her
Queen Elizabeth: The image has been released to mark the start of a new decade
Queen Elizabeth: The royal wore the brooch during a tour of the Solomon Islands in 1982
She made her way to Denmark, and the brooch passed to her daughters upon her death in 1928.
They decided to sell various items at auction, and the brooch was bough by Queen Mary – an avid collector.
Queen Mary was the wife of Minnie’s nephew, King George V, so her purchase of the item kept it in the family somewhat.
Mary paid £2375 for the brooch in 1930 – £156,261 in today’s money.
Kate Middleton v Meghan Markle 2019 wardrobe cost: Who spent the most money? [DATA]
Queen Elizabeth II: Royal wears brooch with huge significance for Christmas Speech 2019 [VIDEO]
Why does Kate Middleton wear three rings? Surprising reason behind them revealed [PICTURES]
Upon her death in 1953 , all of Mary’s jewellery went to the Queen, and remains in her possession today.
Clearly a fan, the Queen has been seen in the brooch throughout the decades, from the 50s to today.
Its most prominent appearance over the years has been at a celebration of her Silver Jubilee in 1977.
In today’s newly released image, the brooch takes centre stage against a pail blue shift dress.
Queen Elizabeth: The Queen inherited the brooch in 1953 as part of Queen Mary’s collection
The Queen also wears a simple pearl strand necklace and pearl earrings in the photo.
Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince George pose alongside the Queen in the image, which has been released to mark the start of a new decade.
This is only the second time such a portrait has been issued. The first was released in April 2016 to celebrate Her Majesty’s 90th birthday.
The portrait was then used on special commemorative stamps released by the Royal Mail.
This new portrait was taken by the same photographer, Ranald Mackechnie, in the Throne Room at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday December 18, 2019.
The royal line of succession – who outranks who?
The line of succession to the British throne dictates the order in which each member of the Royal Family would ascend to the throne. It is also seen as a ranking of importance with the head of the line, the Queen, taking the place of ruler.
Older children come before younger children. Traditionally boys came before girls, but this law was changed on 26 March 2015 before the birth of Prince William’s first child. Incredibly, Catholics are still excluded from the line of succession, as are children born outside of wedlock.
The royals, who usually stick to a strict protocol when appearing in public, often arrive at events in ascending order of importance, with the most important royal arriving last.
Prince Charles, 70, is currently second-in-line to the British throne, followed by Prince William, 37, his oldest son. Then comes Prince William’s children, George, five, Charlotte, three, and Louis, almost one, and they are followed by Prince Harry, 34. Prince Harry is succeeded by his son Archie Harrison, born in May 2019.