17 February 2012

Flashback Friday: Astrid's Tiaras

Princess Astrid of Norway turned 80 last week, and I thought we ought to celebrate with something representative of her style and humor...her tiara collection. She has without a doubt the most oddball pieces in Norway's royal family. Maybe even the most oddball collection of any royal...you be the judge.

First, two tiaras worn by Astrid once upon a time, but no longer.
Empress Joséphine's Emerald Tiara (left) and Queen Josephine's Diamond Tiara (right)
Astrid is the middle child of the late King Olav V; her older sister is Princess Ragnhild and her younger brother is King Harald. The trio's mother, Crown Princess Märtha, died of cancer at the age of 53. Prior to her death, Märtha had been serving as Norway's first lady for the widowed King Haakon VII. Since Ragnhild had already married and moved with her husband to Brazil when Märtha died, first lady duties fell to Astrid. She made use of two of the family's most important tiaras, Empress Joséphine's Emerald Tiara and Queen Josephine's Diamond Tiara, but turned them over when her younger brother married in 1968. The new Crown Princess Sonja assumed the place of first lady of Norway and still wears them today as queen. The rest of our tiaras today belong to Astrid's private collection.

The Vasa Tiara
The most classically pretty member of Astrid's tiara collection is the diamond Vasa Tiara, which uses the motif of the Vasa family that ruled Sweden once upon a time. It was a wedding gift from the City of Stockholm to Crown Princess Märtha (she was born a Swedish princess), and Astrid wears it often.

Queen Maud's Turquoise Tiara
Taking a step on the oddball side, Astrid is in possession of this interesting turquoise tiara which belonged to Queen Maud of Norway (Astrid's grandmother) and came from Maud's mother, Britain's Queen Alexandra. It is in fact a full circlet, reaching all the way around the head. Though it's awfully tall in proportion, I kind of enjoy it in a medieval way. But then again, I don't mind a good turquoise tiara.

The Diamond Bandeau
This next piece, a wedding present from King Gustav V of Sweden and Queen Victoria to Martha, is rarely seen because it requires this 1920s style mode of display. I'd love to see it on a frame in the hair properly, though perhaps that would take the style right out of it.

The Gold Bandeau
And now we come to the real oddities in Astrid's collection, starting with this gold bandeau studded with semi-precious stones and accompanied by a matching brooch and earrings. It once belonged to Astrid's grandmother, Princess Ingeborg, and was the inspiration for the Burger King crown (not really).

The Aigrette
Finally, the pièce de résistance of this unique collection, Astrid's aigrette tiara. This one is usually worn jovially by Astrid with feathers on top, but it also has an alternate attachment of bug antennae ruby flowers. And just to illustrate the kind of lady we're talking about here, she's joked that she can receive transmissions from London and Moscow with her wings up top.

Astrid married businessman Johan Ferner in 1961, and the couple has five children. As these pieces are in her private collection, it is up to Astrid to decide what to do with them. She's apparently stated that the most important ones will go back to the royal family, while the smaller pieces will be left for her children. An excellent solution if I do say so myself, though we wish her many happy returns before that issue should arise. After all, there are few that could carry off some of these gems.

How do you rate Astrid's collection?

Photos: IBL/Scanpix/VG/Aftonbladet