Queen Victoria's Orange Blossoms

The language of flowers is a way of communicating through the use or arrangement of flowers. It has been used for thousands of years by various cultures.

Interest in this way of communicating reached its peak in Victorian England and in the United States during the 19th century. Flowers and plants were used to send covert messages.

One of the first gifts Prince Albert sent his fiancée Queen Victoria was a gold and porcelain orange blossom brooch, a flower traditionally associated with chastity and betrothal. At their wedding the Queen wore sprays of real orange blossom in her hair and on her bodice.

Prince Albert continued to give the Queen orange blossom jewelry, another brooch and matching earrings in December 1845 and a headdress in February 1846 (on their anniversary), eventually creating this beautiful set, parts of which she always wore on their wedding anniversary.

The headdress incorporates four small green enamel oranges, intended to represent the four eldest children - Victoria, Albert Edward, Alice and Alfred. The Queen wrote in her journal, ‘it is such a lovely wreath & such a dear kind thought of Albert’s’ (10 February 1846).

The brooches were two of a group of jewels placed in the ‘Albert Room’ at Windsor Castle after the Queen’s death in 1901 (the room where Prince Albert had died in 1861). The Queen left instructions for a specific list of personal jewellery to be placed there and not passed on in the family.