Royal visit: Gifting of fern brooch planned under veil of secrecy

By Vaimoana Tapaleao

Queen Elizabeth II wearing the diamond silver fern brooch.
Queen Elizabeth II wearing the diamond silver fern brooch.

A diamond silver fern brooch gifted to the Queen more than 60 years ago - and which once again dazzled this week, when the Duchess of Cambridge wore it - was originally organised under a shroud of secrecy.

Earlier this week, it was revealed that the brooch worn by Catherine as the royal party arrived and again in Dunedin, had been on loan from the Queen, and that the brooch had been a Christmas present from "the women of Auckland" when the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth II was on tour here in December, 1953.

Archives in the Auckland Libraries showed few stories about the gift.


The Duchess of Cambridge wearing the diamond fern brooch gifted to the Queen.

In an article in the Auckland Star, dated December 11, 1953, it reveals that the piece of jewellery had been organised by a number of representatives from women's groups in Auckland, but no one was speaking about it.

The story - headlined "Brooch for Queen is so hush-hush" - says the group was headed by the mayoress of the time, Lady Allum, and chaired by Auckland mayor Sir John Allum.

The group had been doing its best not to have any publicity around the 800 gift, which they considered was not a civic affair.

"Said Lady Allum to a reporter before the meeting started: 'I can't say anything. The Governor-General has asked specially that no publicity should be given before the [presenting of the gift]. This meeting is just to pass the accounts for the brooch'," the article reads.

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- NZ Herald

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