giovedì 4 luglio 2013

Belgian Tiaras

After the announcement was made yesterday afternoon that King Albert II of Belgium will abdicate in favour of his son later this month, I thought it might be nice to have a closer look at some of the tiaras associated with the Belgian royal family, some of which we might well catch a glimpse of at the upcoming coronation of the new king!

Let's start with Queen Elizabeth's diamond diadem, created by Cartier in 1910. Queen Elizabeth was born a duchess in Bavaria and married Prince Albert, second-in-line to the throne of Belgium, and later became Queen of the Belgians in 1909, upon her husband's accession to the throne following the death of his father King Leopold II.
Photo from the Swedish book Kronprinsessan Astrid, 1926, from Wikipedia.

Official portrait to commemorate the wedding of the Queen's daughter Princess Marie-José to Prince Umberto of Italy, 1930, from the book Gioielli di Casa Savoia, Electa, 2002.
Queen Elizabeth also often wore her diamond bandeu tiara, a very simple geometric Art Deco piece which is nowadays frequently seen gracing the present Queen's head. It can be worn as a necklace as well and was lent by Queen Paola to Princess Mathilde to be worn on her marriage to Prince Philippe in 1999.
Princess Astrid and Queen Paola (who is also wearing the meander bandeau, part of the Nine Provinces tiara, as a choker).

A very young Queen Paola, complete with 1960s beehive, and Princess Mathilde on her wedding day.

Queen Elizabeth's daughter-in-law Princess Astrid of Sweden, who was Queen of the Belgians as wife of King Leopold III for just over a year between 1934 and her tragic death in a car accident in August 1935, got a number of gifts on the occasion of her wedding to Prince Leopold in 1926.
One of them is the rarely photographed Stockholm tiara, so called because it was a gift to the Princess from the people of Stockholm. More on the history of this exquisite Art Deco piece can be found at A Tiara a Day.
Astrid wore it bandeau-style on the forehead, as was the fashion at the time, while King Leopold's second wife, Lilian, Princess of Rethy, sometimes wore the central, detachable pearl drop as a brooch.
Another wedding gift to Princess Astrid was the Nine Provinces tiara, so called from the nine provinces of which Belgium is made up, which has now become a sort of staple for Belgian royal ladies.
Made in 1926 by Belgian jeweler Van Bever, it was a gift from the Belgian people. The tiara originally given to Princess Astrid consisted of a meander bandeau, a style which was extremely popular at the time, topped by eleven detachable diamonds on spikes. The Royal Order of  Sartorial Splendor offers an interesting explanation as to why the diamonds are indeed eleven.
Princess Astrid wearing the tiara in its original setting, both with...
...and without spikes in this engagement photograph with Prince Leopold.
The Princess later had the tiara altered with the addition of diamond arches on top. In this version, the piece has been passed down the generations and been worn by subsequent Belgian Queens.

Queen Astrid.

Queen Fabiola wearing the complete piece and the lower part only.
Queen Paola.

Queen Elizabeth's daughter, Princess Marie-José, married the Italian Prince of Piemonte in 1930, as mentioned above, and brought with her to Italy a number of tiaras and diadems.
Among them was the pearl and diamond diadem, which she had inherited from Empress Charlotte of Mexico. Princess Marie-José later had it modified to be worn low on the forehead, as was the fashion.
Princess Marie-José from the book Gioielli di Casa Savoia, Electa, 2002.
She wore it quite often, both before and after her wedding, and even had a pair of matching pearl and diamond earrings made in the late 1920s.

 In a commemorative postcard issued to celebrate the birth of the couple's first son, Prince Victor Emmanuel in 1937, from the book Gioielli di Casa Savoia, Electa, 2002 (as the earrings below).
The Princess also inherited from the Belgian side of her family a magnificent Fabergé diamond tiara, which, alas, she never wore (more info and a splendidly detailed close-up can be found here):

And an early XIX century parure of turquoise and diamond jewellery which she inherited from her paternal grandmother, the Countess of Flanders. Princess Marie-José later had the necklace broken up and the stones used on a new diadem, which you can see below in a photo from the wonderfully informative book Gioielli di Casa Savoia:
Fast forward a few years and we find the Belgian Scroll tiara, which is not part of the Belgian royal family collection as such, because it was a gift to Princess Joséphine Charlotte, daughter of King Leopold III and Astrid, from the Société Général, Belgium National Bank, upon her marriage to Prince Jean, then heir-apparent to the throne of Luxembourg, in 1953.
In 1960, the Spanish Wedding Gift tiara came along, a present from the Spanish government to Doña Fabiola de Mora y Aragón on the occasion of her marriage to King Baudouin. It is a wonderfully versatile tiara, which can be converted into many different combinations; moreover, the stones at the centre of each flower can also be interchanged: Queen Fabiola has worn her tiara with rubies, aquamarines and other precious stones.
The piece can also be converted to be worn as a necklace, as shown below:


One of the most modern additions to the Belgian royal family tiara collection, and one of the most frequently seen, along with Queen Elizabeth's diamond bandeau tiara, is the Laurel Wreath tiara. The piece itself is rather old, having been made by London jewellers Hennel & Sons in 1912, but it made its entrance into the Belgian collection in 1999, when it was presented to Princess Mathilde upon her wedding to Prince Philippe. This tiara, too, can be worn as a necklace, an arrangement most famously seen on the Princess at the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's wedding in 2011.

And last of all, when Princess Claire married King Albert's second son, Prince Laurent, in 2003 she received as a wedding gift from the King and Queen a lovely, delicate diamond tiara.
Princess Claire has also been photographed wearing another tiara, a diamond scroll with pearls, a much prettier piece than her wedding tiara in my opinion. Mad Hattery! reckons it was bought especially for her.

So, that's it, a roll call of tiaras in the Belgian royal family, by no means complete or defintive, but much fun to put together nonetheless! My own personal favourite, the one I'd wear absolutely every day if I had the chance (well, a girl can dream...) is Queen Elizabeth's diamond diadem, so I'll leave you with one final photo of this beauty.

What about you, have you got a favourite? Be sure to leave a comment and let me know!

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