31 January 2013

Tiara Thursday: The Swedish Button Tiaras

It’s time to take a deep breath and dive into the stories behind a couple of my least favorite tiaras, the Swedish button tiaras. (I know some of you out there love them, so now is your time to shine.) “Button tiara” is a generic term used for tiaras with primarily circular elements usually sticking up from a frame, sometimes former jeweled buttons brought to new use. In Sweden there are two, the Four and Six Button Tiaras. Despite their bland names (and despite the level of scorn they can bring), they include some valuable items from the Bernadotte historical collection.
Queen Louisa Ulrika wearing what may be these same buttons; King Oscar II in the crown
The buttons from the Six Button Tiara are identified by the Royal Court as those which King Carl XIV Johan (Jean Baptiste Bernadotte) affixed to the crown used for his coronation in 1818; these were later removed. Some of the buttons are said to have come from his gala uniform; some are said to be older, having been worn by Queen Louisa Ulrika of Sweden or even her mother Sophia Dorothea, Queen consort in Prussia. By any explanation, they are centuries old and are of great historical importance. Ten buttons have been added to frames to create two different tiaras for the Swedish royal family.

The Four Button Tiara
The Four Button Tiara includes 4 identical buttons. They are mounted on a simple metal frame, with no additional connecting elements or base detail. The tiara was in use by at least the early 1960s by the four older sisters of King Carl Gustaf. With so many young princesses, the collection was in need of more suitable tiaras - as opposed to the larger tiaras which are fit for a queen or someone more mature.
L to R: Princess Christina, Princess Désirée, Princess Margaretha, Princess Madeleine
Almost all the Swedish royal ladies have worn this tiara in the years since; a notable exception is Queen Silvia, who has never worn it in public. Princess Madeleine doesn't appear to be a big fan either, wearing it only once to date. The King's sisters, when they attend tiara events, now tend to use other pieces.
Crown Princess Victoria
Today, we usually see it on Crown Princess Victoria. And it's her use that gains the tiara the greatest level of scorn, I’d say; she has a tendency to wear it sticking straight up from a flat hairstyle so that there is no background for the buttons…and it looks like the lights on a Jeep. At the Nobel Prize ceremony in 2012, Victoria added a temporary diamond rivère to the base of the tiara, adding some substance to the piece.

The Six Button Tiara
The Six Button Tiara was created later, and was apparently intended for use by Princess Lilian, wife of Prince Bertil (the King's uncle). These six buttons are not identical - the center four match, and the two at each end are of a second design. Both designs are different from those used in the Four Button Tiara. The base includes two rows of diamonds, the top row being longer than the bottom row.
L to R: Princess Lilian, Queen Silvia, Princess Birgitta, Princess Madeleine
As with the Four Button Tiara, this has made it around to many of the Swedish royal ladies. Queen Silvia has worn this one, though I believe just once in public. Today it is most often seen on either Crown Princess Victoria or Princess Christina. Victoria has added a temporary diamond rivère to the base of this one in the past as well. It's a tall tiara and, like the Four Button, tends to look best when it isn't just sticking straight up from a flat base.
Crown Princess Victoria, Princess Christina
Longtime readers may have observed that I can’t help but mention how much I dislike these tiaras whenever they appear. The buttons themselves are important pieces; they are also quite lovely and sparkly, on their own. My problem is that these tiaras feel like a rather haphazard treatment of such precious items, particularly the Four Button (in my own humble and unimportant opinion, of course). Frankly, I think the buttons deserve better.
Video: Nobel 2011, the Six Button on Victoria
Having none of the practical constraints like time or money the jeweler may have been dealing with (and none of the expertise either), it's fun to imagine changes for these pieces. I'd love to see one button knocked off of each. (Uneven quantities look better. Use the extras as brooches!) For the Six Five Button, I’d love to see something like the Pearl Button Tiara’s base. For the Four Three Button, a more elaborate setting would be lovely – I’m thinking about how the old Nizam of Hyderabad Tiara accommodated three brooches. These treatments would still leave the buttons as is, which seems to be a requirement, but would look a little more finished to my eye.

What say you: perfect as is, or would you make some changes? (And if so, what?)

P.S.: I hear all your requests for various Dutch features, and I say stay tuned as as we get closer to April!

Photos: Wikipedia/Getty Images/Polfoto/Scanpix/Sjobergbild/Life

28 January 2013

Royal Splendor 101: Queen Beatrix to Abdicate

I hadn't planned on posting again until Thursday, but a rare news update from me is clearly in order for some HUGE royal news: Queen Beatrix has announced that she will abdicate in favor of her son, Willem-Alexander.

Video: The abdication announcement (with English subtitles)
I wrote about her own accession, and a bit about Dutch practices in general, last year, but I'll renew some of it here. First, for those that don't know already, it's important to note that this is standard practice for the Dutch royal family. Beatrix's mother and grandmother both abdicated. In some countries abdication is a sign of failure, but in others it is a way to make a transition when the time is right for both parties instead of during a time of mourning. In her speech, Beatrix stated in part that she has chosen to abdicate because it is time for a new generation. Abdication speculation has been brewing for several years now, so this isn't a surprise. And it's been a particularly tough year for Beatrix, following her son Prince Friso's tragic avalanche accident in February 2012 which left him in a coma. Friso is in a London hospital, and it's been said that the Queen travels back and forth quite a bit. On April 30, 2013, Willem-Alexander will become the first Dutch king since 1890. April 30th is Koninginnedag, or Queen's Day. It was Queen Juliana's birthday, and the very day on which she abdicated in favor of her daughter Beatrix in 1980. Though many had guessed he might reign as King Willem IV, he will be known as King Willem-Alexander. Máxima will become Queen Máxima, following discussions in the past over whether or not that title would apply to her. Beatrix will be Princess Beatrix once again, and Catharina-Amalia will become Princess of Orange at just 9 years old.
Video: The abdication of Queen Juliana
Details will continue to emerge regarding the celebrations that will take place on April 30, but we can look back to Beatrix's own accession in 1980 for a glimpse of what's to come. The official abdication ceremony was held in the morning, followed by a balcony appearance.
Video: On the balcony, following Juliana's abdication
This is followed by the inauguration ceremony - not a coronation. (The British coronations are what many of us know best, but the sort of elaborate ceremony we saw in 1953 is not replicated in most other countries.) Beatrix's ceremony featured the new queen in a tiara (the Pearl Button Tiara) and ermine robe, while female guests primarily wore long dresses and hats, and the gentlemen wore a mix of things from suits up to uniforms and white tie. Though the crown and regalia are displayed during the ceremony, there is no actual crowning.
Video: Queen Beatrix's inauguration
We'll have to wait and see how closely Willem-Alexander's inauguration will resemble past examples (excepting things that are required to be the same), and for details on things like extra events or foreign royal guests. With such ceremonies, you typically see heirs or other representatives sent instead of monarchs, though there are always exceptions. Who will not be in attendance: Máxima's parents, due to her father's controversial past.
Video: Queen Juliana's inauguration, 1948
It's sad to see Beatrix go, but on the whole I think there's a lot to be said for this abdication thing - a new reign can be celebrated with a full celebration, both of the new monarch and of the old. And Beatrix will still be around to make us smile. (So yes, I think that means you are allowed to be pumped about the prospects of Queen Máx and what she might do with full rein of the family jewel vault. Did someone say Stuart Tiara?)

UPDATE: The Royal House has already released some information, with more details to come. The investiture will be held at the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam following the balcony appearance, as expected. The King will wear white tie under his mantle (robe). Foreign royalty will be invited, but not reigning heads of state. Within a year, the new King and Queen will visit all Dutch provinces and Caribbean parts of the kingdom. Click here to read the official details.

And with that, I really will be back on Thursday with business as usual. Until then - don't forget to vote for your favorite fringe tiara!

Readers' Ultimate Tiaras: Pick Your Diamond Fringe

I have had many, many requests for more reader polls on tiaras, specifically polls to pick favorite tiaras in individual categories (like gemstones or types of tiaras). So, all right. Let's do it. YOU'VE WORN ME DOWN, you scamps.

You indulged me by viewing my personal dream tiara collection, now let's do one for you lot. All of you, collectively. Once a month or so, I will throw out a category (determined by moi) and you can vote for your favorite tiara in that category. By the end of it all, the results will make up a Readers' Ultimate Tiara Collection of sorts. Okay? Okay.

As I argued in my own collection write ups, a great tiara collection needs a fringe tiara of some sort. It's just too much of a classic design to ignore. (Luckily for those of you that hate fringes, there are plenty of design options to choose from.) I've also received a lot of requests for a post comparing and contrasting the many, many diamond fringe tiaras out there. So let's shoot two birds with one stone and start with this:

Pick your favorite diamond fringe tiara!

The fringe tiara style gained popularity in Russia, where it resembled the traditional kokoshnik headdress. The style became popular around the world, and there are countless tiaras out there in some sort of fringe design. They are often all diamond, and the style is also popular as necklaces - many of the fringe tiaras can convert to necklaces, though this is not always true.
Empress Marie Feodorovna, in a fringe tiara/kokoshnik
The classic fringe tiara can be hard to tell apart from its fringe tiara friends. It is a design dominated by tall diamond posts, large uprights that typically graduate in size (the tallest in the middle of the tiara, the smallest at the ends). These are separated by smaller spikes of diamonds in a different design, often circular or square shaped diamonds.
Classic fringe examples:
1. Princess Mary's Fringe, formerly the property of Mary, the Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood
2. Princess Marie-Chantal's Fringe, from the Greek royal family
3. Habsburg Fringe, from the Liechtenstein princely family
4. Queen Mary's Fringe, from the British royal family
5. Kent City of London Fringe, now worn by Princess Michael of Kent
6. A fringe formerly belonging to Queen Maria of Yugoslavia
The design of these smaller spikes and the angle and size differentiation between the large uprights is one way to tell fringe tiaras apart, though at times it can be necessary to actually count the diamonds to differentiate between these classic examples.
 More classics:
1. Queen Sirikit of Thailand's flexible fringe, which can be worn halo-style, or in a more traditional mode (and also as a necklace, like many other tiaras here)
2. Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna, Princess Nicholas of Greece and Denmark, and her fringe
3. The Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleberg Fringe
4. A fringe that belonged to Queen Alexandrine of Denmark, now worn by Countess Sussie of Rosenborg, which almost entirely eliminates the shorter spikes

There are also numerous variations on this classic design out there. Some are only a slight variation, and others stretch the definition of a "fringe" pretty far. Where you draw the line - what is and what is not in the fringe category - is up to you.

Some go pointier, really tapping into the sun ray description often used for fringe tiaras. The Baden Fringe Tiara, on the left above, has less of a differentiation between the design of the tall and short spikes; the sun ray tiara owned by Queen Victoria (later put on another tiara base by her daughter, Princess Beatrice, seen above right) omits alternating heights for its spikes.

Others round out the spikes. Queen Alexandra's Kokoshnik Tiara (above left) is the best example of this, though the fringe from Monaco also has some rounded details at the ends (above right).

Some add more design to the spikes, like the Kent Diamond and Pearl Fringe (above left), the now dismantled Surrey Fringe (above right), or Sweden's Modern Fringe (above below).

Other fringe tiaras prefer a skinnier version of the spikes, like tiaras worn by Queen Noor of Jordan (above left) or Crown Princess Masako of Japan (above right, in a pearl-topped sunburst tiara formerly worn by her mother-in-law). These are getting away from what we typically label as a fringe tiara - but again, where the line is drawn is up to you.

And that's just some of the fringe tiaras out there. It's a big, big pool to swim in - and I'll leave the rest to you.

Right, so, ready to vote for your favorite? Here's what you do:
-Vote for one tiara in the comments. (If you're mentioning multiple tiaras in your comment, indicate which one gets your vote, or I will just count the first one.)
-I will also count the number of "likes" or up arrows on those comments, so you can vote that way too.
-Non-royal tiaras and tiaras that no longer exist are fair game too.

We'll be back with new stuff on Thursday.

Photos: Wikipedia/Geoffrey Munn/Getty Images/Scanpix/Christie's/Kungahuset/Royal Collection

Weekly Royal Fashion Awards: January 20-26

Good news, good news: we have some color this week!

 Best in Red
Princess Letizia
At the annual reception for foreign ambassadors, visiting a nursing home
And she's back in my most favorite color for her, excellent. Interesting new addition to her court dress wardrobe, isn't it?
Best and Worst in Davos
Crown Princess Mary, Crown Princess Mette-Marit, and Princess Mathilde
Attending the World Economic Forum in Davos
You can always find a handful of royals in Davos - these are just a few appearances. Seems everybody but Mette-Marit's floaty red skirt got the "No fashion! All business! For the peoples!" memo.

Worst in Old Man Pants
Princess Mathilde
At a forum meeting in Gent
I was with you until you stood up. Leave the high-waisted plaid trousers to the golf course, I think.

Best in Black and White
Crown Princess Victoria
Attending a seminar, and a concert
Oh, so close - and we almost got through a whole week without my whining about blergh. Oh well. I'll allow it.

Who was your best dressed last week?

Photos: Getty Images/Pool/BestImage/Kongehuset/Scanpix/AFP/Nieuwsblad/Kungahuset

25 January 2013

Royal Trip Report: The Dutch in Brunei and Singapore

Nobody does a state visit quite like the Dutch these days. Seriously. It's a festival of tiaras and giant hats, which is - hello - the reason why I love this royal watching thing. And for this trip, first to Brunei and then on to Singapore, Máxima seems to have packed an extra bit of fabulous.
Monday and Tuesday they called on the Sultan of Brunei, and Máxima threw up a chic streak in full-skirted green, classy florals, stunning white, and luxuriously ginormous millinery. And then she decided to dress like a banana set free from the fruit basket, just so we know she still has some bad judgement left.

And then! It was time! For the tiaras!
There's no reason to hold back when you're at the Sultan of Brunei's house, really, and Queen Saleha led the way in her large diamond tiara. Beatrix also went big - her tiara, which she wore on her wedding day, is one of the two largest she uses. As for Máxima, I expected more, but I can't complain; she is the queen of sneaking bling in under the radar, and you can't argue with the Rose Cut Diamond Bandeau. I also can't argue with her Jan Taminiau gown, which is better suited for state banquet purposes than for its original Prinsjesdag purpose. Click here for a video.
Night two, double the tiara fun! Bless the Dutch ladies, they busted out the tiaras even though the men were in business suits. This is what it will look like when they finally put me in charge of the world, kids: tiaras all the time, no matter what. Anyway. Beatrix wore the family aquamarines, and Máxima added yet another tiara to her repertoire. Well, sort of. She wore the base of the Pearl Button Tiara with stars for her wedding and after, but this is the first time we've seen her in the actual pearl button version. I won't say it was a successful outing, but she's excused since she let us see something new.

Next they headed to Singapore, where a separate state visit began on Thursday.
Máx wore a hairy little repeat from Princess Carolina's wedding. Some of you found it festive and appropriately Máx-level zany the first time we saw it...I think it needs a wax. I shall concentrate on the stunning pink jewels and on her delightfully sherberty second outfit of the day.

And then! Tiaras! Or: Tiara! and Not Quite a Tiara! more accurately.
For the first evening in Singapore, Beatrix wore her favorite, Queen Emma's Diamond Tiara. It's a notable step down from her first night in Brunei; perhaps a nod to their hosts this time around not having tiaras of their own to flaunt. Máxima certainly toned it down in the tiara department, wearing a haircomb-type thing from Queen Wilhelmina which went unseen for a century or so until she wore it to the pre-wedding festivities for Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden. She paired this with an overall look last seen on Barbie, I'm pretty sure. I'm just saying. Click here to see video.

The Singapore visit ends today.

UPDATE: The last day in Singapore.
A slower end, to be sure, but I do like both of these repeats.

What's your favorite outfit from this double trip?

Photos: All Over Press/PPE/ANP/Dutch Photo Press/Abaca/EPA/Getty Images

24 January 2013

Tiara Thursday: The Habsburg Fringe Tiara

The Habsburg Fringe Tiara
The fringe, spike, or sun ray tiara is a Russian-inspired design which became an extremely widespread motif, and examples can be found in collections around the world. This is a strong classic example, featuring diamonds set in gold and silver. The taller and wider pavé set spikes alternate with short spikes set with collet diamonds, and all are attached to a simple diamond base. This particular model is usually attributed to the Austrian jeweler Kochert, who likely made it in the 1870s.
Maria Theresa
It is thought to have been a wedding gift to Infanta Maria Theresa of Portugal (1855-1944) for her 1873 marriage to Archduke Karl Ludwig of Austria, brother of Emperor Franz Joseph I. (It is this Austrian connection that gives us our Habsburg name.) Maria Theresa memorably wore the tiara for the wedding of Archduke Charles and Princess Zita of Bourbon-Parma.
Maria Theresa’s daughter, Elizabeth Amelie (1878-1960), married Prince Aloys of Liechtenstein, and it is usually assumed that she brought the tiara to Liechtenstein. It has remained with the princely family and has been worn by several members, most notably by Georgina (Gina), the wife of Elizabeth and Aloys’ son Prince Franz Joseph II.
Marie (left) and Isabelle (right)
Gina loaned the tiara for the weddings of two of her daughters-in-law: it was worn in 1967 by Countess Marie Aglaë Kinsky of Wchinitz and Tettau for her wedding to Prince Hans-Adam, the current reigning prince, and in 1971 by Isabelle de l’Arbre de Malander for her wedding to Prince Phillipp. In recent years we’ve seen the tiara on Sophie, the current Hereditary Princess of Liechtenstein. Sophie is the wife of Prince Alois, the son and heir of Hans-Adam, and she wore it while representing Liechtenstein at the weddings of Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and Prince Albert II of Monaco.
Foreign royal events are about our only chance to see this tiara in use these days. (And even then, it's not a guarantee: recently, the Prince and Princess of Liechtenstein attended the pre-wedding dinner of the Hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg, which was a tiara event, but she chose not to wear a diadem.) As I’ve said before, this is the fringiest fringe that ever fringed, a tall and imposing version for those that love a good classic fringe tiara, and it’s a little sad we barely get to see it in action.

Does this make your list of favorite fringes?

(P.S.: For those of you that have been asking for a fringe comparison post - it's coming.)

Photos: Getty Images/All Over Press 

23 January 2013

Wedding Wednesday: Princess Margriet's Gown

HRH Princess Margriet of the Netherlands and Pieter van Vollenhoven
January 10, 1967
The Hague, Netherlands

Today's gown - which inspired several questions and requests after our look at January royal brides - belongs to Princess Margriet of the Netherlands, daughter of Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard. Her engagement to Pieter van Vollenhoven, a Dutch commoner, was announced in 1965 but they didn't marry until 1967, after her sister Princess Beatrix's wedding.
Video: Don't miss the snow bunny bridesmaids!
Margriet worked with Dutch couturier Caroline Bergé-Farwick from Maison Linette for her wedding dress, just as her sister had. The creation is classic for the period and the season: completely covered with a high neckline and long sleeves, a slim silhouette and small train on the dress itself, and a long five meter train extending from the back. Though it looks quite simple from a distance, up close the gown is heavily embellished. Margriet, whose name means daisy, took the floral theme and ran with it.
The dress fabric came from Paris, where it was embroidered with daisies. There are hundreds of daisies covering every inch of the dress and train; the upper portion of the bodice and the train feature daisies with pearl accents. She also carried a bouquet of daisies and topped her voluminous updo with a short tulle veil and the Pearl Button Tiara - a diadem which includes buttons in the form of small daisy-esque flowers.
Her daisy excess reminds me of Princess Mabel's bow overdose - but since Margriet's is more of a subtle, embossed effect, it doesn't overwhelm like the bows did. It's a look that isn't done much justice by the photography of the time (similar to the lost detail on Queen Sofia's gown).
It was said that Princess Beatrix and Prince Bernhard weren't entirely in favor of this match, since Pieter did not come from a noble family, and did not have a title. Thankfully, time has proven those reservations incorrect. Margriet and Pieter have provided crucial support for Queen Beatrix through the years. They had four sons and have several grandchildren now, and can still be seen at many royal events.

What do you think of Margriet's daisy dress?

Photos: ANP/Gahetna/Het Koninklijk Huis

22 January 2013

Gold Star: The Return of Prince Harry

Harry's tour of duty in Afghanistan is done!
 He's back, and he has entertaining headgear.
As good an explanation as any for a little somethin' to look at on your Tuesday, no? Gold star.

Weekly Royal Fashion Awards: January 13-19

Best in Blah
Princess Letizia and Crown Princess Mary
Letizia attending audiences at Zarzuela Palace; Mary celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Danish Twin Register and attending the Home Guard concert
I know. I know. These outfits are fine. Sometimes I just get punchy, especially when things are so slow. (Thankfully the royal world is picking up speed this week!)

Best in Twins
Princess Mathilde and Princess Máxima
Mathilde viewing her special birthday stamp and attending a New Year's reception; Máxima attending two New Year's receptions
Look at that: the Natan closet monster strikes again (at least it's colorful!). I think I have to give this twinsies appearance to Maxima - that's a pretty impressive hair day on the Maxima scale. And also: killer earrings.

(Máxima is now on a state visit with Beatrix and Willem-Alexander, and we will have a look at that later this week.)

Who was your favorite last week?

Photos: Getty Images/Abaca/Stella Pictures/Kongehuset

21 January 2013

Royal Trip Report: The York Sisters in Germany

Here's a fun royal trip for you: our very own Holmes and Watson, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, took a two day jaunt to Germany as part of the Great Britain Mini Tour to promote British business and culture overseas. While everyone else fusses about what this means for their future (or non-future, as the case may be) as working royals, let's fuss about their fashion! Successful or not, they do bring a dose of youth to the royal fashion scene - and we can always use more of that.
They began in Berlin, where Beatrice paired a chic belted Burberry coat with a Jonathan Saunders dress and Kurt Geiger heels and Eugenie went with a basic Mulberry coat, navy Alice and Olivia dress (or so it was reported - she kept the coat on) and L.K. Bennett heels. I can't tell you how much I love Beatrice's "put a belt on it" philosophy - cinching it is just the right thing to do.
In the evening, they hit up the ambassador's residence. Beatrice brought back perhaps my very favorite Erdem dress in royal use today, but Eugenie made a strong play for my affections with sparkly chevrons. You guys, I am obsessed with chevrons right now. And these ones are sparkly. If they were purple too, I might have hyperventilated.
Day 2 took them to Hanover, home of their ancestors. Eugenie repeated the coat she wore to Christmas service, and reaffirmed my initial thoughts: this is too bulky for her. It's just bulky enough to appear to add bulk to her, and that just won't do. She fared much better without the coat, even though it's still not as interesting as sparkles and chevrons. As for Beatrice, her blue coat is lovely and all that - but day 1 still wins it for me.

Which outfit is your favorite?

Photos: NetaPorter/PA/Matches

18 January 2013

Flashback Friday: Mathilde's Greatest Hits

Princess Mathilde is turning 40! And around here, that means it's time to flashback to her greatest sartorial hits. Truth be told, I had trouble coming up with a list for our Belgian friend. She flies under the radar in her standard Natan wardrobe, and a lot of her statements don't work out quite right. But there are always some gems to be found, and here are my faves:

Typical princess time: prim and proper hatted fun. Her classic blue/gray number at Felipe and Letizia's wedding is pure elegance. Also, I really quite like the sparkly beige outfit she threw on for Estelle's christening, despite the fact that many of you thought it too dull for this colorful royal. But there's no dull involved in her millinery selection for brother-in-law Prince Laurent's wedding - when Mathilde makes a statement, she Makes A Statement!

Everyday princess outfits, for doing your standard princess business. I've always liked the collar and the pink and gray combo on the left there, and the striped number with a dash of citrus is a flattering silhouette. And you can't go wrong with a little red or white dress.

Ultimate princess time now: gowns and glamour! These are my two very favorite Mathilde outfits. Her floral gown at Frederik and Mary's wedding is soft and pretty, and it goes well with her laurel wreath tiara and her riband. And her sleek white gown at Máxima's 40th birthday concert is stunning, plain and simple.

And now that I'm to the end, I realize we're missing orange, her signature color. (Most assuredly not my own signature color.) Time for you to take over!

What's your favorite Mathilde outfit?

Photos: Rex/Getty Images/All Over Press

17 January 2013

Tiara Thursday: Queen Josephine’s Diamond Tiara

One of the two biggest tiaras worn by Queen Sonja of Norway is Queen Josephine’s Diamond Tiara, a sizable diadem of floral motifs and laurel wreaths depicted in diamonds and mounted in gold and silver.
Queen Josephine's Diamond Tiara
It’s an old piece, but just how old it is isn’t known for sure. Some have connected it to Queen Desideria, born Désirée Clary (1777–1860). Désirée was the wife of Jean Baptiste Bernadotte, the Marshal of France under Napoleon I who was elected King of Sweden and Norway. This connection is speculative, though, and she may never have owned it. We can, however, connect it to Queen Josephine of Sweden and Norway (1807–1876), who was Desideria’s daughter-in-law. She was painted wearing the tiara, and the name we’ll use here comes from her.
Queen Josephine (left), Queen Louise (right)
The Scandinavian monarchies are closely related throughout history, and when you look at their jewels, you often find that pieces have bounced back and forth between the countries through those family ties. This tiara has done a bit of bouncing, so to speak. It was inherited by Josephine’s granddaughter Princess Louise of Sweden (1851–1926), who became Queen Louise of Denmark through marriage. The tiara was then worn by several ladies in the Danish royal family, some of Louise’s daughters and granddaughters, before it was eventually inherited by one of those granddaughters: Crown Princess Märtha of Norway (1901–1954), who was born a Princess of Sweden. With Märtha, the tiara found the Norwegian home it still has today.
Crown Princess Märtha (left), Princess Astrid (right)
This is one of the two tiaras in the Norwegian collection that I classify as “first lady tiaras” – the other being Empress Joséphine’s Emerald Tiara. Both were borrowed by Princess Astrid, daughter of Märtha and King Olav, when she acted as first lady for her father in the early years of his reign (Martha sadly died of cancer before Olav came to the throne). And they’ve both been worn solely by Queen Sonja since her marriage in 1968, when she (as Crown Princess) took over the first lady duties. This was her tiara of choice for her daughter Märtha Louise's wedding.
Queen Sonja (as Crown Princess and Queen)
It's unlikely we’ll see this on anyone other than Queen Sonja until the day eventually comes when there is a new Queen of Norway. For now, she seems to prefer the emerald tiara for her most important events, but I wish Sonja would wear this one more often - it's is one of my favorite pieces in the Norwegian tiara collection.

Which do you prefer: this one or the emerald tiara?

Photos: Scanpix//PPE/Kongehuset

16 January 2013

Wedding Wednesday: January Brides

A plethora of January royal brides today, and plenty of wedding variety to brighten your Wednesday. (Obviously this isn't all January brides, because come on.)

Princess Juliana of the Netherlands and Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld
January 7, 1937 
Juliana, the future Queen of the Netherlands and mother of current Queen Beatrix, wore diamond roses in her hair to wed Bernhard.

Crown Prince Umberto of Italy and Princess Marie José of Belgium 
January 8, 1930  
Marie José's mega tiara was made for her husband's grandmother, Queen Margherita, and is still with the (now exiled) Italian royal family.

Crown Prince Paul of Greece and Princess Frederika of Hanover
January 9, 1938  
Frederika is wearing both Queen Sophie's Diamond Tiara and the tiny Hanover wedding crown, which I must say looks a little odd perched up there.

The Earl of St. Andrews and Sylvana Tomaselli
January 9, 1988
They married in a registry office in Scotland; since she is Catholic, Lord St. Andrews is currently excluded from the line of succession.

Princess Margriet of the Netherlands and Pieter van Vollenhoven
January 10, 1967 
Margriet is the daughter of Queen Juliana (and sister of Queen Beatrix). It was just announced this month that this happy couple are to be grandparents once again, as their son Prince Floris and daughter-in-law Princess Aimée are expecting their third child!

Princess Astrid of Norway and Johan Martin Ferner
January 12, 1961
Thrifty Princess Astrid (sister of King Harald) had her wedding dress modified for use as an evening gown later on.

January 12, 2012
The couple welcomed a daughter in November of 2012, Princess Zein. (Hamzah also has one daughter, Princess Haya, from his first marriage.)

King Simeon II of Bulgaria & Margarita Gómez-Acebo y Cejuela
January 21, 1962
Margarita's diamond tiara includes red and green stones - the colors of the Bulgarian flag.

January 23, 1999
Their secretive wedding was her third and his second. The bride wore Chanel. (Of course.)

Prince Maximilian of Liechtenstein and Angela Brown 
January 29, 2000
Another royal (okay, princely if you must) wedding in the United States: these two held their religious wedding in New York City. Maximilian is one of the sons of the current Prince of Liechtenstein, Hans-Adam II.

January 31, 1993
Her Versace gown is the definition of winter theatrics, no?

Who's your favorite January bride?

Photos: ANP/Greek royal family/Hello/Kongehuset/Petra