07 September 2011

Wedding Wednesday: Bridal Tiara Traditions

After talking about family veils, it's only natural to move on to the tiaras that top them off, right? Right.

Truthfully, I thought this would be a much broader tradition. If you ask me, a tiara worn by every family bride is the best wedding tradition of all. Just from a practical standpoint, a tiara will last a whole lot longer than fabric will. Plus, you can wear them at other occasions; be romantic whenever you want. You can't really wear your wedding veil to a state banquet. I mean you could, I guess, only the men in the white coats will stop you.

We just saw one such tiara tradition: the Isenburg Tiara, which is worn by all Isenburg brides. But there aren't really that many reigning (and/or partly reigning) families with staunch wedding tiara traditions.

Among such families, Queen Ingrid's clan has the most strict tiara tradition. Strictness, of course, is measured here in terms of how much money you should feel comfortable placing on a wedding tiara bet.
Left to Right: Queen Anne-Marie, Queen Margrethe, Princess Benedikte, Princess Alexandra, Princess Alexia, Princess Nathalie
Just as you can be sure that the female descendants of Queen Ingrid will wear the family veil, you can be certain that they will pair it with the Khedive of Egypt Tiara. Unlike the veil, it was not worn by either Ingrid or her mother on their respective wedding days (it was one of her mother's wedding presents); and it has only been worn by her direct descendants so far (as opposed to the veil, which was lent to in-law Mary on her wedding day).

Sweden comes next in levels of strictness. Their bridal tiara tradition is just beginning, really, but it has strong roots so far.
L to R: Princess Birgitta, Princess Désirée, Queen Silvia, Crown Princess Victoria
This all started when Princess Birgitta borrowed the Cameo Tiara from her mother, Princess Sibylla for her wedding day. Actually, she had a two-tiara affair: she wore this for her civil ceremony, and a tiara from her husband's family (the Hohenzollerns) for the religious wedding. It's a bit of an unusual wedding pick, due to its interesting form and color, but it is one of the most historically significant pieces the Swedish house owns. Her sister Princess Désirée followed in her footsteps, but their other two sisters chose different headpieces. The strength of this budding tradition, in my opinion, comes from their sister-in-law Queen Silvia, and her decision to wear this on her wedding day. We've now seen it on Crown Princess Victoria, but Princess Madeleine went for a different tiara. Perhaps Princess Estelle will one day wed in the Cameo, making it a queen-to-be tradition.

Luxembourg has the beginnings of a bridal tiara tradition at the ready, but we need more brides to tell us if the family intends it to continue.
L to R: Grand Duchess Joséphine Charlotte, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa, Princess Marie Astrid, Princess Margaretha
The Congo Diamond Tiara was one of Grand Duchess Joséphine Charlotte's wedding presents, and she chose to wear it for her wedding ceremony. She then passed it on to her daughter-in-law, Maria Teresa, and both of her daughters for their wedding days. That's a strong start to a tradition - but it hasn't been worn by a bride since then. Furthermore, the family almost sold this tiara after the Grand Duchess's death, in an effort to divide her assets (the proposed auction of quite a lot of Joséphine Charlotte's jewels and other valuables was cancelled after it caused public outcry). So we wait to see if the tradition will or will not continue.

The Netherlands have a baby tiara tradition of their own as well.
L to R: Princess Marilène, Princess Annette, Princess Aimée, Princess Anita, Princess Margarita
All of Princess Margriet's four daughters-in-law borrowed the Ears of Wheat Tiara on their wedding days, as did Princess Irene's daughter, Princess Margarita. The tiara, which can be worn with varying numbers of wheat ears, is very subtle; so much so that you can hardly see it on some of these brides. It's a piece that makes sense for these ladies, as they are all a step removed from the main line of the royal family (Margriet and Irene are sisters of Queen Beatrix). Queen Beatrix's three daughters-in-law, on the other hand, borrowed more substantial pieces.

And in the category of "maybe, possibly, someday traditions", we have Spain:
L to R: Queen Sofia, Princess Letizia
A mother and daughter (or daughter-in-law) wearing the same tiara does not qualify as a tradition, since the "tradition" can easily die off after that. Case in point: Princess Anne wore the same tiara as her mother Queen Elizabeth did, but her own daughter Zara went a different direction, and that tiara hasn't made any other nuptial appearances. So we can't yet call Spain's Prussian Diamond Tiara a bridal tradition, despite the fact that Queen Sofia wore it on her wedding day, and Princess Letizia wore it on hers. But I think we might have a tradition in the making. Perhaps it is significant that her own two daughters wore other tiaras and Sofia chose to lend her wedding tiara to the future Queen - the one that can best continue a tradition. But alas, we will have to sit with our hands folded for many years to see if Letizia's daughters (including one named for her grandmother!) will carry this one through.

Which is your favorite tiara tradition?

Photos: Billed Bladet/Kungahuset/APL/TRF/DPA/Koninklijkhuis/Life/Publiboda