18 July 2013

Tiara Thursday: Queen Elisabeth's Diamond Bandeau

Queen Elisabeth's Diamond Bandeau
Queen Paola has fewer tiaras at her disposal than most of her fellow queens. Today’s tiara has been an anchor in her collection during her years in the Belgian royal family. It features a diamond Art Deco design with a row of interlocking diamond shapes threaded with a small wreath of leaves at the center. It’s a low profile bandeau tiara that does have a certain amount of flexibility and can also be worn as a necklace, in a choker style.
Queen Astrid (left), Princess Lilian (right, with the tiara as a necklace)
The tiara can be seen to create a row of “E” shapes, which makes sense given its origin: the tiara belonged to Queen Elisabeth (1876 – 1965), wife of King Albert I. Elisabeth is said to have given the tiara to her daughter-in-law, Queen Astrid (1905-1935), the first wife of Leopold III, to celebrate the birth of her third child, but Astrid tragically died not long after in a car accident. Her husband remarried, and the tiara was also worn by his second wife, Princess Lilian (1916 - 2002). Lilian showcased the tiara’s flexibility, using it as a necklace and also adding additional diamond studs to the top on at least one occasion; these are thought to have been the large diamonds from the Nine Provinces Tiara, as you can see in that entry.
Queen Paola
The third child of Queen Astrid and King Leopold III, the one whose birth reportedly inspired the gift of this tiara to Astrid, was Prince Albert, known today as King Albert II. So it’s quite appropriate that the tiara was next given to Albert’s wife, Paola. Until her husband became king and she was given the Nine Provinces Tiara, this was really Paola’s only tiara. (She did occasionally wear other things in her hair, a diamond necklace that could be converted for example, but this was it for proper tiaras by my definition.) And even in the years that she’s had the grander Provinces piece at her disposal, she’s continued to make good use of the bandeau. She wears it as both a tiara and as a necklace, and has also paired it with the Nine Provinces Tiara, which also has a necklace form. She loaned this tiara to her daughter-in-law Mathilde to wear on her wedding day.
Princess Mathilde
As we look ahead to King Albert’s abdication and the shift of power to King Philippe and Queen Mathilde, many have wondered how the change will affect the family’s tiara distribution. We’ll know it when we see it, of course, but my expectation is that Queen Paola will pass along the Nine Provinces Tiara to Mathilde and will keep Queen Elisabeth’s Diamond Bandeau as her only tiara for any future tiara events. She could choose to leave it to Mathilde or to someone else. (I hope to see it someday on Mathilde and Philippe’s oldest daughter, who will be Queen Elisabeth too.) As for Mathilde, she’ll keep her Laurel Wreath Tiara, and it’s still unknown if either of the two tiaras belonging to Queen Fabiola will come her way or not (a few other pieces from Fabiola’s jewel box have been seen on Mathilde recently). Time will tell!

How do you rank this tiara in the Belgian collection? A favorite, or no?

Photos: Getty Images/IBL/Corbis