14 December 2012

My Ultimate Tiara Collection: Queen Sophie’s Diamond Tiara

Queen Sophie's Diamond Tiara
The last spot in my dream tiara collection goes to one of the best surprises of 2012, Queen Sophie’s Diamond Tiara. This major all diamond tiara, featuring large rectangular diamonds set in circular foliage motifs, gets its name from its first owner: Princess Sophie of Prussia (1870-1932), who married the future King Constantine I of Greece in 1889. The tiara was a family wedding gift; some say it came from her mother, Empress Frederick (Victoria, Princess Royal – the oldest child of Britain’s Queen Victoria), and others say from her brother, Wilhelm II.
Queen Sophie
Sophie was pictured frequently with the tiara throughout her marriage. After her death, her daughter Helen, Queen of Romania, was pictured wearing it. But it gained its most famous owner in 1938, when another German princess married into the Greek royal house. Princess Frederika of Hanover was given the tiara on her marriage to the future King Paul I, and she wore it on her wedding day (behind it, she wore the tiny Hanover wedding crown).
Queen Helen
It became Frederika’s favorite tiara; she even allowed Queen Ingrid of Denmark to wear it on one occasion (Ingrid was in Greece to celebrate the centenary of the Greek royal house in 1963 - click here to see video). Though she handed over the family emeralds and rubies to her daughter-in-law Queen Anne-Marie, Frederika hung onto this one.
Queen Frederika
What exactly happened to the tiara after Queen Frederika’s death has been a favorite mystery for royal jewel watchers for years. She died in 1981, but I don’t believe she had publicly worn the tiara since prior to the Greek royal family leaving Greece in 1967. Though we continued to see tiaras on Queen Anne-Marie at international royal events, this tiara went missing for decades. Many assumed someone in the family had quietly sold the tiara; after all, exile can be hard on a royal family’s finances, and it has resulted in many royal jewels on the auction block. Anne-Marie did say in an interview at one point in time that the tiara was still with the family, but still it went unworn.
Princess Marie-Chantal
It went unworn until this year, that is. In January 2012, Princess Marie-Chantal (Anne-Marie’s daughter-in-law, wife of Crown Prince Pavlos) shocked us all by busting out Queen Sophie’s Diamond Tiara for Queen Margrethe’s Jubilee banquet. And despite the fact that we now have visual proof that it is indeed still with the family, the mystery remains: why was it unworn for so long? And why did it reappear on Marie-Chantal and not on Anne-Marie? Much has been speculated, including some complicated scenarios of inheritance, money, taxes, and just about anything else to explain how this could be left in storage for so many years. Personally, I also don’t understand how someone could have something like this and just choose not to wear it for 40+ years - but then I look at all the tiaras the Queen Mother neglected for decades, and it reminds me that you really don’t need any reason more complicated than personal taste and comfort to put a tiara in the vault for years. Anyway: all of this is speculation.
In my little fictional tiara collection, this baby occupies the “big gun” spot. It’s not as tall as other major tiaras like the Braganza or the Luxembourg Empire Tiara, but it has enough diamond power to take them on. And while it was mostly hidden in Queen Frederika’s hair, we can see on Marie-Chantal that it is indeed a huge tiara. Also: I just love it. It’s got mystery, and a shape that’s sort of like my all-time favorite Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara on steroids, and it’s just fabulous. End of story!
My Ultimate Tiara Collection

What’s in your ultimate tiara collection?

Photos: Getty Images/Life/Corbis/Royal Collection