Princess Anne's Empress Maria Feodorovna sapphire brooch: The fascinating Russian history behind the Royal Family heirloom

Princess Anne wore the stunning sapphire and pearl brooch, which she inherited from Queen Elizabeth II, in Uganda earlier this week

Princess Anne's Empress Maria Feodorovna sapphire brooch: The fascinating Russian history behind the Royal Family heirloom
(Image credit: Neil Mockford/GC Images/Getty Images)

Princess Anne wore a sapphire brooch with a surprising Russian history in Uganda on Tuesday, much to the fascination of royal fans. 

Princess Anne wore a stunning sapphire brooch in Uganda this week that just so happens to have a fascinating Russian heritage, according to the royal history archives. 

The Princess Royal arrived in the East African country on Tuesday to begin a whirlwind four-day-long tour of philanthropic engagements, much to the excitement of her international fans. The visit marks the 72-year-old's second overseas trip since the Queen's death in September (she flew to New York earlier this month too), further solidifying her reputation as one of the hardest-working members of the Royal Family

Never one to prioritize style over practicality, the regal icon kept her outfits simple but elegant on Day One in Uganda. Princess Anne went for double denim and 'snazzy sunglasses' for her first engagement, before changing into a blue wrap dress to attend a fancy dinner at the residence of the British High Commissioner with the country's president, Mr. Yoweri K Museveni. The Queen's eldest daughter paired the long-sleeved gown with a pearl necklace, penchant earrings, and low-heeled black shoes for a timeless finish. 

The focal point of the outfit, however, was the sapphire and pearl brooch pinned to her chest. 

Once owned by Empress Maria Feodorovna, the glittering badge was presented to Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, who ended up wearing it on multiple occasions throughout her reign. Its journey to the House of Windsor began in Russia, where it was given to Maria in 1866 by the Prince and Princess of Wales as a wedding gift ahead of her marriage to Emperor Alexander III. 


Queen Elizabeth II wearing the brooch, which was previously owned by Empress Maria Feodorovna

(Image credit: Gett)

The Empress absolutely loved the brooch and embraced it as part of her 'everyday jewelry', in keeping with her belief that royals should wear their finest jewels for the public to see. She even managed to take it with her to Denmark in 1917, after she was forced to flee Russia because of the February and March Revolutions. 

After the Empress died in 1928, her daughters, Olga and Xenia, sold her brooch in an auction. It ended up being purchased in 1930 by Queen Mary, who paid £2,375 for the piece. The heirloom was then inherited by Queen Elizabeth II after her coronation in 1953, and quickly became a staple accessory in the late monarch's extensive jewelry collection. 

Emma Dooney
Lifestyle News Writer

Hailing from the lovely city of Dublin, Emma mainly covers the Royal Family and the entertainment world, as well as the occasional health and wellness feature. Always up for a good conversation, she has a passion for interviewing everyone from A-list celebrities to the local GP - or just about anyone who will chat to her, really.

Emma holds an MA in International Journalism from City, University of London, and a BA in English Literature from Trinity College Dublin.