Not long after the return of the Royal family from their tour of South Africa Queen Elizabeth, then Princess Elizabeth, was made a Freeman of the City of London. It was the then Princess' first major solo ceremonial occasion, with a formal ceremonial drive through the capital to the Guildhall, where she then inspected a guard of honour before proceeding inside where, amongst much traditional pomp and ceremony, she was given the Freedom of the City.
The ceremonial drive to the City.
During the ceremony Queen Elizabeth was presented with a diamond brooch as a memento of the occasion.
It is commonly accepted that this was the brooch referred to as the City of London Lily brooch --as seen worn by HM in the photo below.
I haven't found an image proving that this was the brooch presented to QEII, but there are some clues, which I will detail later, which would support that conclusion.
There are two commonly stated reasons for why QEII was given this honour by the City of London: first, in honour of her 21st birthday earlier in 1947 and secondly, because of her service to the City.
There may be some validity to the first, in that the City (and the Palace officials) may have delayed the honour until she was twenty-one. But the main reason for her being granted the honour is that, by 1947, it was clear to all that the then Princess would be the next monarch, not for her service to the City or nation to that date. For the duration of the war Princess Elizabeth had been largely kept out of the public sphere and because of her age had not been able to take an active part in assisting with the war effort until towards the end of the war. In contrast, her mother, the then Queen, later Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, had taken a prominent role in boosting morale and organising assistance throughout the war; yet, despite this, she was not granted the Freedom of the City until 1953.
I suspect that the ceremony of granting QEII Freedom of the City was orchestrated by the Palace officials in part as a means of establishing the then Princess in the mind of the public as the next monarch -- in short shoring up, through ceremonial honours, the dignity of the heir. QEII could not be made Prince of Wales, but in 1947 the King made sure that she received honours befitting an heir such as being given the Order of the Garter etc.
Criteria for being made a Freeman of the City is broadly outlined in this article from the City of London. https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/about-us/law-historic-governance/freedom-of-the-city
The press in 1947 made it clear that QEII (as Princess) qualified for the honour through patrimony, her father having been granted the honour of being a Freeman. And during the ceremony where she was made a Freeman of the City, QEII claimed it through patrimony.
The process was not straight forward as, to qualify, the then Princess had to become a Freeman of the Drapers Company, as was her father.
QEII, as Princess became a Freeman of the Drapers Company on 20 May 1947. The ceremonial surrounding that was less well publicised.
During the ceremony QEII was presented with the Drapers badge adorned with a diamond bow. Once again, I have not found an image from the time of the badge/brooch; however HM wore it for the official ceremony when she was granted the Freedom of the City of London.
The badge/brooch of the Drapers Company can be seen in this image of HM on the ceremonial drive to the City in 1947.
In videos of the ceremonial when QEII was made a Freeman of the City of London the diamonds in the badge/brooch glitter, although I found it difficult to see the details of the brooch. Honouring the Drapers Company was particularly pertinent as, during the City ceremony, leading members of the Company attested that the Princess was a Freeman of the Drapers and that they were sponsoring her.
That and other aspects of the ceremony can be seen in this video of the event.
Luckily for us QEII has worn the Drapers Company badge/brooch on a number of occasions over the years, so we can see the detail via modern photographs. (Some views of the Drapers badge etc can be seen on their official website. It also has a photo showing when QEII was made a Freeman of the Drapers and the pen she signed her documents with https://thedrapers.co.uk/heritage/)
A 2000 painting of QEII wearing the badge by Sergei Pavlenko.
An enlarged detail of the brooch
I mentioned earlier some clues which prompted me to think that what we call the City of London lily brooch was the one given to QEII at the ceremony in 1947 when she was made a Freeman of the City.
Perhaps the most significant one is that, when the Duke of Edinburgh, was made a Freeman in 1948, she wore the Lily brooch on that occasion.
On the drive to the City
The main reason why I had hoped to find an image of the brooch when it was given to QEII by the City in June 1947 is the apparent discrepancy between the Lily brooch and the descriptions of the brooch in the press in June 1947.
1947 description of the brooch. It is said to have 3 leaves and a bird, to be English circa 1760.
If I stretch my imagination a little, I can envisage a bird when the brooch is viewed from some angles. Perhaps I am more inclined to accept that because I have never seen a lily in the design.
Perhaps Leslie Field was mistaken in calling it a lily brooch. But how do we reconcile the reed rush element on the lower right of the brooch? Obviously it is not a leaf but, if what we call the lily brooch was the gift of the City of London it seems strange that the media descriptions of the brooch do not mention the fourth element.