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Detail from a portrait of the marriage of Princess Helena

The history of Royal weddings as seen through items in the Royal Collection

Charles Augustus Ferdinand du Ve (active 1840)

Eagle brooch 1839-40

RCIN 65320

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This is one of the brooches given to each of the twelve ladies - unmarried daughters of the nobility - who carried Queen Victoria's train at her wedding in 1840. According to the Times of 10 February, 'The whole workmanship [of the brooches] is very superior and exactly in accordance with the directions of the Royal Bride'. The stones used were all highly symbolic: turquoises and pearls representing true love, rubies for passion and diamonds for eternity.

After the wedding ceremony, each train bearer was presented with one of these brooches in a blue velvet box. Several of these survive in the families of their original recipients, for example at Woburn Abbey and at Hatfield House. An example, possibly this one, belonged to Queen Victoria's granddaughter, Princess Marie Louise (1872-1956).