"Mourning jewellery" belonging to Queen Victoria, which were passed down along the British royal family for generations, are going up for auction at Sotheby's London.

It was announced last month that a "glittering" collection of over 400 items belonging to Countess Mountbatten of Burma, born Patricia Mountbatten, are heading for auction in March. The expensive royal collection which is expected to fetch up to £1.5million includes four black macabre brooches which were worn by her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, reports People magazine.

The brooches were worn by the former British monarch to honour the death of her third child and second youngest daughter, Princess Alice, who lost her life to diphtheria at the age of 35. One of the brooches is a cross-shaped "hardstone, enamel and diamond pendant" centering on an onyx heart featuring the word "Alice" underneath a coronet on its front.

On its reverse, the words "Dear Alice" are inscribed alongside the princess's death date "14th December 1878," which also marked the 17th anniversary of the passing of Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, in 1861. The brooch is expected to sell for between £2,000 and £3,000 when the auction begins on March 24.

One of the other brooches is a unique onyx pearl button featuring an initial "A" set with seed pearls. Its reverse features a miniature portrait of Alice inscribed with the words "From Mama VRI 7th April 1879." The third one is described as a "banded agate and pearl pendant" dating from 1878, and includes a lock of Princess Alice's hair. It is inscribed "from Grandmama VR," as a gift from the Queen to Alice's daughter, who was also named Victoria.

It was commissioned by the then-queen to commemorate the deaths of Princess Alice as well as her granddaughter, Alice's daughter Princess Marie of Hesse, who also died of diphtheria in 1878.

Another black brooch belonging to Queen Victoria is included in the collection, but it does not commemorate Princess Alice. It was commissioned for her by her beloved husband, Prince Albert, to mark the death of her mother Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, later the Duchess of Kent.

The agate and diamond open-pendant features a miniature photograph of the Queen's mother, along with an inscription from Albert reading: "Dear Mama. From Albert in remembrance of March 16, 1861. Du warst uns Freud und Glück (You were our joy and happiness)."

The British monarch, who ruled from 1837 to 1901, spent several years in mourning as she lost a number of her close family members, including three of her children. She famously wore black every day for forty years following the death of her husband Prince Albert on December 14, 1861. She mourned with wearable mementos of her loved ones, creating a new fashion for mourning jewellery throughout Victorian Britain.

Prior to reigning Queen Elizabeth II who has been on the throne for 68 years and counting, Victoria was Britain's longest-serving queen with her 64-year-reign.

Queen Victoria
Portrait of Queen Victoria Wikimedia Commons