17 January 2013

Tiara Thursday: Queen Josephine’s Diamond Tiara

One of the two biggest tiaras worn by Queen Sonja of Norway is Queen Josephine’s Diamond Tiara, a sizable diadem of floral motifs and laurel wreaths depicted in diamonds and mounted in gold and silver.
Queen Josephine's Diamond Tiara
It’s an old piece, but just how old it is isn’t known for sure. Some have connected it to Queen Desideria, born Désirée Clary (1777–1860). Désirée was the wife of Jean Baptiste Bernadotte, the Marshal of France under Napoleon I who was elected King of Sweden and Norway. This connection is speculative, though, and she may never have owned it. We can, however, connect it to Queen Josephine of Sweden and Norway (1807–1876), who was Desideria’s daughter-in-law. She was painted wearing the tiara, and the name we’ll use here comes from her.
Queen Josephine (left), Queen Louise (right)
The Scandinavian monarchies are closely related throughout history, and when you look at their jewels, you often find that pieces have bounced back and forth between the countries through those family ties. This tiara has done a bit of bouncing, so to speak. It was inherited by Josephine’s granddaughter Princess Louise of Sweden (1851–1926), who became Queen Louise of Denmark through marriage. The tiara was then worn by several ladies in the Danish royal family, some of Louise’s daughters and granddaughters, before it was eventually inherited by one of those granddaughters: Crown Princess Märtha of Norway (1901–1954), who was born a Princess of Sweden. With Märtha, the tiara found the Norwegian home it still has today.
Crown Princess Märtha (left), Princess Astrid (right)
This is one of the two tiaras in the Norwegian collection that I classify as “first lady tiaras” – the other being Empress Joséphine’s Emerald Tiara. Both were borrowed by Princess Astrid, daughter of Märtha and King Olav, when she acted as first lady for her father in the early years of his reign (Martha sadly died of cancer before Olav came to the throne). And they’ve both been worn solely by Queen Sonja since her marriage in 1968, when she (as Crown Princess) took over the first lady duties. This was her tiara of choice for her daughter Märtha Louise's wedding.
Queen Sonja (as Crown Princess and Queen)
It's unlikely we’ll see this on anyone other than Queen Sonja until the day eventually comes when there is a new Queen of Norway. For now, she seems to prefer the emerald tiara for her most important events, but I wish Sonja would wear this one more often - it's is one of my favorite pieces in the Norwegian tiara collection.

Which do you prefer: this one or the emerald tiara?

Photos: Scanpix//PPE/Kongehuset