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The Flame Lily Makes History

Updated on September 7, 2013

The Flaming Flower of Africa Makes a Beautiful Brooch

A young Princess Elizabeth celebrated her 21st birthday while travelling through southern Africa with her parents and sister.

It was 1947 and it was on this occasion that a gift was made to the Princess of a beautiful brooch crafted in the likeness of the flame lily. The brooch was a gift from the children of Southern Rhodesia.

The brooch is known to be the Queen's favorite and she has worn it on many occasions.

This is my own painting of Gloriosa Flame Lily

NB: While there are many pictures of this lovely brooch available online there are very strict guidelines for the use of any photos pertaining to the Royal family and approval has yet to be obtained to include a picture of the brooch.

Commonly called the Flame Lily this glorious lily is the national flower of Zimbabwe (and it was the national flower of Rhodesia). It's botanical name is Gloriosa superba 'Rothschildiana'.

The wonderful petals resemble a flame both in color and shape and it's easy to see how it got it's name.

Other common names for this lily are fire lily, glory lily, climbing lily. It is native to Africa and parts of Asia.

I know I'm biased but I think this is one of the most beautiful flowers!

Photo Credit

Have you heard of the flame lily?

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The Queen's Diamonds
The Queen's Diamonds

A beautifully presented and illustrated book produced for Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee. If you are interested in history and the Royal family this is a book for you.

It also features the famed flame lily brooch and other jewellery and is full of history and detailed photos.


Rhodesian Flame Lily Brooch

To this day the Flame Lily brooch is known as one of Queen Elizabeth's favourite brooches.

In 1952 she wore the brooch when she stepped off the plane onto British soil for the first time as Queen. She was returning from Kenya following the news of the death of her father.

Handcrafted in diamonds and platinum the brooch was the handiwork of Eric Kippin whose son Leslie now lives in Shropshire, England. It is said to contain 301 diamonds.

Eric Krippen worked in Johannesburg, South Africa, for world renowned Cartier Jewellers when he was commissioned to create his piece of art on behalf of the 42,000 school children of Southern Rhodesia on the occasion of the then Princess' 21st birthday in 1947.

Photo Credit

There's More to the Story of the Brooch!

Tickey or thrupence
Tickey or thrupence

The schoolchildren of Rhodesia were asked to contribute a 'tickey' (this was the local name for a three penny piece, also known as thrupence - when converted to dollars and cents later the tickey was a two and half cent piece).

John Cripwell was one of those schoolchildren and I am writing this from the details he gave in an article he wrote in the Rhodesians Worldwide magazine in December 2012.

According to John it soon became apparent that the parents and guardians of the children were not going to allow their 'charges' (as he put it) to give such a small amount and the money began to flow in. After the purchase of the brooch the B.S.A Company "matched the surplus, pound for pound" and a Travelling Scholarship was formed. The Scholarship was intended to provide travel for two Rhodesian boys and in alternate years two Rhodesian girls to visit England for six weeks. At the same time two English boys and girls would exchange and have the chance to travel to Rhodesia.

John Cripwell and Len Roberts (two 12 year olds) were chosen in 1954 to make the journey to England. After all these years John's article was still full of excitement as he told his story of his trip and actually having tea with the Queen...and he said there she was wearing The Brooch! I'll quote here: "Tea and sandwiches were negotiated with difficulty, but made easier by Her Majesty's ability to put two gauche lads totally at ease". And signing the guest book under Haakon and Astrid of Denmark was a final touch of excitement for the boys.

In 1957 Bridget Wells-West flew to the UK with Anne Lovemore for their jaunt overseas. These two were the last of the recipients of the Travelling Scholarship. The pair had been guests of the Queen at the 'Braemar Gathering' (a festival held in Scotland) and they found themselves entertained by "a little Prince Charles, walking behind his father, hands clasped behind his back in unconscious mimicry". Although they had a memorable trip this was the highlight of the tour for them!

Bridget wrote her article in reply to John's in the January - March 2013 issue of RWW. Her story was just as vivid as John's. It's obviously something never to be forgotten!

There is no mention of how the English children were chosen and the Rhodesians never met their counterparts.

A wonderful memory for a number of schoolchildren thanks to the Flame Lily Brooch!

This very poor photo was taken by me with my mobile. It shows you a 'tickey' or three pence which has been made into earrings. The tickey has been enamelled. The words show Rhodesia and Nyasaland and 1964. Guess what...the flame lily appears too!

Why tickey or ticky (either is correct)? Well, it means small. As the three pence piece was the smallest currency and the coin only slightly over half an inch it gained it's name. I even remember a small circus clown with the name Tickey because of his size!

I was born in Southern Rhodesia but only in the year of the Coronation of the Queen. This means I was not around to give a tickey to the birthday gift and was too young to participate in the exchange! I now live in New Zealand.

In 2011 Queen Elizabeth wears THE BROOCH in her Christmas speech!

The Queen's Birthday

Queen Elizabeth actually celebrates two birthdays each year. There's her actual birth date of 21 April and her official birthday in June. this usually happens when the ruling Monarch's birthday is not in summer.

Here in New Zealand we celebrate the Queen's official birthday on the first Monday in June each year.


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