24 May 2012

Tiara Thursday: Queen Maud's Pearl and Diamond Tiara

It’s not every Thursday that our tiara chat includes an armed robbery, but there’s a first time for everything…
Queen Maud's Pearl and Diamond Tiara
We’ll start with a tamer tale, and one typical of tiara origins: this was a wedding gift, given to Princess Maud of Wales by her parents (the future King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra) to mark her 1896 wedding to Prince Carl of Denmark. It features a diamond base of scroll and festoon motifs topped with pearls.
A drawing of the tiara from the publication of Maud's wedding gifts; Maud wearing the tiara
In 1905, Carl was chosen to become king of the newly independent Norway and took the name King Haakon VII. Queen Maud brought her tiara along with her to their new Norwegian home, and she wore it often.
Queen Sonja with the large version of the tiara
The tiara was given to Queen Sonja when she married then-Crown Prince Harald in 1968 and she’s worn it ever since. In 1995 she sent the tiara – along with some other smaller pieces of jewelry – to Garrard in London for repair and valuation. The pieces were all set to return to Norway when three armed robbers broke into the Regent Street store and stole about £250,000 worth of jewels. Maud’s tiara, valued at £200,000 in news reports at the time, was the biggest part of their heist. Despite a substantial reward offering, the tiara was never recovered.
Queen Sonja with the small version of the tiara
Garrard ultimately made Sonja a replica to replace the stolen one – an act of contrition for losing a royal heirloom, I guess. We still call it Queen Maud’s tiara, though it no longer is, and the remake is still popular with the royal family.
Princess Märtha Louise (left) and Crown Princess Mette-Marit (right) with the small version
The tiara actually has two versions: the larger, full version and a smaller one created by removing the front center section and repositioning the three top pearls. The smaller form was worn by Princess Märtha Louise on her wedding day, and for the first time in 2010 by Crown Princess Mette-Marit for Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden’s wedding.
The smaller version of the tiara
I prefer the lower version personally, which is no surprise given it strongly resembles a simplified version of the original Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara (my personal favorite tiara). I would love to see it make regular appearances in Mette-Marit’s tiara rotation.

Which do you prefer: the large or the small version?

Photos: Scanpix/Kungahuset/UK Press/Billed Bladet/Corbis