The Curious History of the Lover's Eye Brooch

The Curious History of the Lover's Eye Brooch

Did you know that King George IV is supposedly buried with a Lover's Eye Brooch? The story of the strange piece of jewelry is full of tragedy and romance. When he was still the Prince of Wales, George IV fell in love with Maria Anne Fitzherbert, a Catholic who was twice widowed. When he proposed, she fled to France to avoid scandal. The Prince of Wales had a portrait of his eye painted and sent to her. She had one made of her eye and sent to him. They were secretly married and the union was deemed legitimate by the Pope but violated the Royal Marriages Act 1772. Bowing to pressure to abandon Fitzherbert and marry an approved spouse, George married Caroline of Brunswick, his cousin. Later, George IV resumed his relationship with Fitzherbert. In 1837, on his deathbed, he requested that he be buried with the Lover's Eye pendant that had been given to him by Fitzherbert.


Lover's Eye Brooches from the Regency Era

Lover's Eye brooches from the Regency Era

There are only about one thousand original Lover's Eye brooches that are from this era, so they are considered somewhat rare. Replicas can be purchased and even made by modern day artists. I purchased one on Etsy for inspiration while I wrote my Pride and Prejudice variation A Lover's Fine Eye.

The brooch had multiple reasons for being made. They may have been painted and worn as a remembrance of a loved one who had died. Some even have a lock of hair on the back of the brooch. It may have been a jealous warning to a loved one that they were being watched. If you had a secret lover, the brooch was a remembrance of them that could also conceal their identity, much like a lock of hair. It was said that King George IV wore the brooch from Fitzherbert inside his lapel so that he could steal quick glances at it. 

A Lover's Eye brooch is an object of mystery and intrigue. Only the giver and receiver truly know its purpose. It is entirely possible that Jane Austen may have seen one in her lifetime!


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