14 February 2013

Tiara Thursday: Queen Fabiola's Spanish Wedding Gift Tiara

Queen Fabiola's Spanish Wedding Gift Tiara
When Spain's Doña Fabiola de Mora y Aragón married Belgium's King Baudouin in 1960, she received a tiara from the Spanish government. This isn't the only royal tiara out there presented by General Franco (the Spanish head of state at the time) - Queen Sofia received one as well. In Fabiola's case, it was a particularly useful gift, because Belgium was running a little low in the tiara department.
A delighted Mrs. Franco presents the gift to Fabiola
As Queen, Fabiola had just three tiaras to use: the Nine Provinces Tiara, a small diamond necklace tiara, and this one. Luckily for Fabiola, this one performs enough tricks to create two different tiaras and a necklace in three different colors. That makes it one of the most convertible tiaras out there, a fact usually mentioned when people request a feature on this baby - and this is a frequently requested Thursday treat.
The largest form of the tiara
In its full format, it features leaf-like floral ornaments on top of a tall base, resembling some of the coronets from Spanish nobility (the Duchess of Alba has been photographed in a similar piece). It's tall and imposing this way, with the feel of a crown, and it would certainly qualify as a big gun tiara. A smaller tiara can be created by assembling just the leaf elements on a base, or they can be suspended from a necklace.
The smaller form of the tiara
The centers of the leaves are single colored gems: aquamarines, green stones, or red stones. The red and green options are usually listed as rubies and emeralds, but not everyone is convinced that's correct. There's a rather surreal tale involving the previous owners which leads to doubt about the stones in this tiara.
In necklace form
So the story goes that a group of nuns owned the diadem before it was acquired for Fabiola. According to the tale, the nuns sold some of the stones to raise money for charity, and replaced them with fakes. Supposedly this was not discovered until the tiara was in Fabiola's possession, at which time a switch had to be made - which makes it seem rather unbelievable, but memorable nevertheless.
Later appearances
Fabiola has generally stayed away from tiaras in her widowhood. The last time this was worn as a tiara was in 2000 and 2001, during state visits from Spain and Sweden. She wore the tiara in the smaller aquamarine version, which seemed to be her preference. It is her personal property (unless she's already made other arrangements), and many have wondered what might become of it after Fabiola's passing. The speculation was renewed earlier this year when news emerged of a foundation formed to handle Fabiola's assets after her death. Fabiola said that it was only intended to deal with her private fortune and not any public funds, but it still caused such a stink as a tax dodging scheme that she dropped the whole idea. Who knows what that means for any other arrangements Fabiola may have made or would have made. And so when - or if, and on who - we'll see this tiara again remains a mystery.

Which version of this tiara is your favorite?

Photos: Getty Images/DPA/Corbis/Polfoto