Lady Hale, also known as Brenda Marjorie Hale, also known as the Baroness Hale of Richmond, is a British judge and the president of the UK’s Supreme Court. This morning, she ruled that Boris Johnson’s prorogation, or suspension, of parliament was unlawful.
My Daily Beast colleagues in London, Jamie Ross and Nico Hines, referred to the moment as “one of the most momentous legal verdicts in British history,” that might lead to Johnson earning the dubious distinction of “Britain’s shortest-serving prime minister.”
Lady Hale understood the situation required gravitas, and therefore the judge delivered her ruling wearing the only accessory appropriate: a knuckle-sized spider brooch.
Ed Brody, a publicity manager based in London, first noticed the accoutrement on Twitter, writing, “Can we not lose sight of what’s important here: what an absolute brooch icon Lady Hale is.” He punctuated the observation with not one, two, or three, but eleven instances of the justice pinning fake, friendly critters over her right shoulder.
Some might call Lady Hale an “unlikely” trendsetter, but as photographic evidence proves, Lady Hale’s been out here flexing for a while now. She has worn pins shaped like frogs, caterpillars, and butterflies. She’s even sported a resting fox on her shoulder, though under her watch the eyes of the law never sleeps.
After the world noticed the spider she opted for when delivering her message to Johnson. Lady Hale quickly became a social media darling—especially among those who oppose Brexit and support Britain staying in the European Union. She is also a longtime and vocal supporter of diversity within the judiciary. A stadium tour with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg would surely sell out.
“Lady Hale looks like the kind of sweet old lady who'd make you tea and offer you a biscuit and then sits down to tell you about all her assassination missions she did for the resistance during the war in occupied France,” read one popular tweet. (Though it's worth noting Lady Hale was born in 1945. She'd be fighting the Nazis at negative years old.)
As The Guardian reported, after making waves online, the brooch quickly popped up on a t-shirt made by the company Balcony Shirts. Thirty percent of the shirt’s proceeds will be donated to Shelter, a UK charity which aims to end homelessness. As of Tuesday afternoon, the top had garnered £4,000 to donate.
Lady Hale’s rising reputation needs no added stoking—the brooches are quite enough, thank you very much—but there are more delightful, amphibious-themed facts to learn about the justice.
Last year, Mike Amos of The Northern Echo described Lady Hale’s return visit to Richmond, in Yorkshire, where she went to girls’ school, as “a bit like Madonna playing a neighborhood concert.”
A profile revealed that the 73 year old “enjoys making jam,” though her husband Julian Farrand is a better cook.
Lady Hale referred to Farrand as her “frog prince.” It’s an “inside joke,” she told the paper. Because of this, naturally, “Now people give us frogs.”
The Echo reported that Lady Hale is the proud owner of “a large collection of ceramic frogs,” and that there are “some 6 foot wooden centipedes” in her home garden.
British fashion has long had a reputation for being delightfully eccentric and a bit quirky. Think of Marianne Faithfull’s heart-shaped sunglasses, Isabella Blow’s futuristic fascinators, or Vivienne Westwood’s layer of tartan.
Lady Hale, with her spider brooch, deserves a place among these greats. More accurately, perhaps, they deserve a spot alongside her.