The romantic history behind the Duchess of Cambridge brooch - the item worn by Kate Middleton in her official portrait

The Duchess of Cambridge brooch was worn by the Duchess of Cambridge herself for her first official royal portrait with Prince William

the Duchess of Cambridge brooch
(Image credit: Bettmann / Contributor / Getty Images)

The Duchess of Cambridge brooch was worn by Kate Middleton in the official royal portrait of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, sparking interest in the romantic history behind the iconic accessory.

Prince William and Kate Middleton's first official joint portrait was officially unveiled on Thursday, June 23, 2022.

"This new portrait of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge was unveiled by Their Royal Highnesses at Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam Museum earlier today," revealed a post from the Royal Family about the exciting event.

"Painted by British portrait artist Jamie Coreth, the artwork was commissioned in 2021 by the Cambridgeshire Royal Portrait Fund as a gift to the people of Cambridgeshire," said the post. 

In the painting, the Duchess can be seen wearing the Duchess of Cambridge brooch. The Cambridge Pearl Pendant brooch is one of Queen Elizabeth's brooches that has been in the Royal Family for generations.

It is thought that the Duchess of Cambridge brooch dates back to the nineteenth century and was possibly crafted by Garrard, a London-based jeweler.


Queen Elizabeth II at the opening of the Thames Flood Barrier, London, UK, 8th May 1984

(Image credit: Mike Lawn / Stringer / Getty Images)

According to the Court Jeweler, the accessory was first made for another Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Augusta of Hesse-Kessel, who was born in Germany in 1797 and married Prince Adolphus in 1818 at Buckingham Palace. Following her marriage, to King George III's son, the Princess then became the Duchess of Cambridge and this unique brooch was made in her honor.

The brooch is a large pearl surrounded by diamonds with another pearl and diamonds suspended from the main brooch. This dangling pendant is also detachable and the main cluster also has a loop which allows the whole piece to be worn as a pendant - so it can be both a necklace and a brooch.

An elderly Augusta was painted wearing this very brooch in 1877, when her portrait was commissioned by her niece, Queen Victoria. 

Following Augusta's death, the brooch was passed down through the Royal Family and was owned by Augusta's youngest daughter, Princess Mary Adelaide, Duchess of Teck, who was pictured wearing the brooch as a necklace.

Mary of Teck

Princess Mary Adelaide, Duchess of Teck

(Image credit: Hulton Archive / Stringer / Getty Images)

The brooch was then passed down to Mary Adelaide’s daughter, Queen Mary of Teck, who was also painted wearing it on numerous occasions. In her later life, Queen May was photographed wearing the brooch at the christening of Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) in 1926 and at Prince Charles's christening in 1948.

The Queen inherited the brooch from her grandmother, Queen Mary, in 1953 and has also been photographed wearing it on many occasions throughout her reign.

Princess Elizabeth

Queen Elizabeth and her grandmother, Queen Mary at Prince Charles' christening in 1948

(Image credit: Hulton Deutsch / Contributor / Getty Images)

It is likely that as the latest Duchess of Cambridge, Catherine will be the next member of the extended Royal Family to inherit this stunning brooch. This would maintain the sweet tradition within the Royal Family of mothers and grandmothers passing down brooch down to the next generation of women in the royal line of succession.

Laura Harman

Laura is the Entertainment Editor for woman&home who primarily covers television, film, and celebrity news. Laura loves drinking and eating and can often be found trying to get reservations at London's trendiest restaurants. When she's not wining and dining, Laura can also be found travelling, baking, and hiking with her dog.