22 March 2012

Tiara Thursday: The Romanian Greek Key Tiara

Today's tiara is a stark take on the meander motif (much like what we saw yesterday from Morocco). It's one of the last grand jewels of the exiled Romanian royal family - but in order to get to Romania, we must begin in Russia.
The Romanian Greek Key Tiara
Princess Victoria Melita was the daughter of the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, son of Britain's Queen Victoria. Ducky, as her family called her, became Grand Duchess Viktoria Feodorovna after her second marriage to Grand Duke Cyril Vladimirovich of Russia. Her husband had a Romanov's appreciation of jewelry; this tiara is said to have been among the gems he presented her with. In exile after the revolution destroyed Russia's monarchy, the jewels had to go to make ends meet. Luckily for Ducky, her sister Missy was in the jewel market.
Viktoria Feodorovna with her two daughters and the tiara worn on her kokoshnik
Missy, known to most history books as Queen Marie of Romania, sent some of her own jewel stash to Russia for safekeeping before the revolution. Unfortunately, when it was all said and done, the Bolsheviks refused to give her back her jewels. So she purchased jewels to supplement her collection, including some from her sister - a mutually beneficial arrangement. This flexible tiara of Greek key designs separated by bars and depicted in diamonds and platinum was apparently included in the transactions, and was subsequently presented to Helen, the bride of Missy's oldest son Carol.
It was a particularly fitting gift, considering the bride's roots: Helen was Princess Helen of Greece and Denmark, daughter of King Constantine I and Queen Sophie of Greece. The tiara depicts a meander, or Greek key, motif common in architecture and art in ancient Greece and beyond. Unlike many Greek key tiaras, which often incorporate a floral or wreath motif alongside the twisting lines of the meander, this is strictly linear. Helen - who became crown princess after her marriage to the future Carol II of Romania in 1921 - wore it often, starting on her wedding day and continuing through her marriage and into her time as Queen Mother of Romania.
Left to right: Helen, Anne, and Maria wearing the tiara on their wedding days
The tiara has a bit of a bridal history for the Romanian royal family as well. Helen wore it on her wedding day, Princess Anne of Bourbon-Parma wore it to marry Helen's son King Michael in 1948, and Anne and Michael's daughter Maria wore it on her wedding day in 1995. The family has been in exile since the late 1940s, and this seems to be the only tiara they have left. It is today worn by the oldest of King Michael's daughters, Crown Princess Margarita, who usually represents the family at international royal events.
Crown Princess Margarita
This is the rare tiara that I might actually like more with the flatter angle of a headband style of wear. The separation of the motifs when it is worn upright looks a little wonky (technical term) to my eyes. Then again, the meander will never be my favorite tiara design.

Greek key tiaras: yay or nay?