kate Middleton Duchess of Cambridge white Catherine Walker coat dress Passchendaele France pearl and triple leaf royal brooch

Kate, Duchess of Cambridge at the Commonwealth War Graves Commissions’s Tyne Cot Cemetery to mark the centenary of Passchendaele in Zonnebeke, Belgium, on the 31st July 2017. (Picture by James Whatling)

Sometimes lots is known about a particular royal brooch. Sometimes, they lie, hidden and forgotten in the royal jewellery vaults (given the vast size of Queen Elizabeth’s collection, one vault can’t be sufficient to hold them all.) Such is the case with the crisply graphic Pearl and Triple Leaf Royal brooch that made a dramatic reappearance in the summer of 2017.

ROYAL BROOCH COMPOSITION

The large brooch is composed of three leaves–perhaps oak—of white gold or platinum, each outlined with thin bands of yellow gold. A large mabe pearl is inset at the centre of each leaf, which are also set with naturalistic scatterings of tiny diamonds.

Kate Middleton Duchess of Cambridge Pearl and Triple Leaf royal brooch ypres belgium passchendaele July 2017

A close-up of the Pearl and Triple Leaf Royal Brooch worn by Kate, Duchess of Cambridge on July 31, 2017 (Picture by Pool / i-Images

CREATION

This is the very definition of a mystery royal brooch. Nothing is known about it. Nothing.

WORN

Thanks to eagle-eyed royal jewellery bloggers, we know Queen Elizabeth II pinned it to an orange-and-white polka dot dress during her visit to South Korea in 1999 (Scan down this string to see a low-resolution image). The Press Association picture was taken from the June 1999 issue of Majesty magazine, which included the following caption: “The Queen meets Lesley Garrett after the British soprano led the singing of Happy Birthday at the close of a special concert held in Her Majesty’s honour in Seoul.”

There have been no reported sightings after that until July 31, 2017, when Kate, Duchess of Cambridge wore it in Belgium for the 100th anniversary of Passchendaele, the bloody, futile military campaign during the First World War. Because of the military nature of the event, a British poppy is pinned behind the royal brooch, obscuring part of its setting.