21 March 2014

Royal Outfit of the Day: March 21

Princess Sibylla, late mother of the King of Sweden, in traditional Swedish court dress for portraits and the formal opening of parliament (center).
A bit of a flashback today, relevant to us for two reasons: 1. This is fabulous, and 2. Tiara intrigue!

1. This is fabulous, plain and simple. What Princess Sibylla is wearing here is one of the Swedish forms of court dress, a formal uniform of sorts that existed for Swedish royal ladies to use on important occasions. They came in a few different versions; this particular one, suited to Sibylla's high place in the royal family, includes a dark gown with exaggerated sleeves and a train, all trimmed in ermine in worn with a veil and tiara. You might recognize this sort of dress first from the similar gowns used at court in imperial Russia, but outfits like this can be spotted on Bernadotte ladies going back many generations. They were kept in use for the opening of parliament in Sweden up until 1974 - not that long ago, when you consider how long this sort of grand gown has been out of fashion.
Princess Christina, 1974
After 1974, changes were made to the actual ceremony involved with the parliament opening, and these gowns no longer had a place. For the same event today they wear modern dress but in a black and white dress code that serves as a faint call back. And if you look closely at gala events, you will see Queen Silvia's attendants still in dark gowns with lattice work on the short sleeves, a form of these court dresses. The oh-so-royal version with train is retired, and would probably be labeled as out of touch if it were used for an event today...but I'd so love to see it resurrected for a portrait someday. It is the height of royal splendor, and shouldn't be forgotten.

2. Tiara intrigue! This week brought the unexpected return of the tiara Princess Sibylla wears in the picture at left above. The Swedish Aquamarine Kokoshnik Tiara was understood to have gone to Sibylla's oldest daughter, Princess Margaretha, but it had scarcely been seen in later years until it reappeared on Margaretha at Crown Princess Victoria's 2010 wedding. There were rumors then that the King might have acquired it from his sister to add to the royal collection, but this week gave us the first real hint that something like that may have occurred:
Princess Christina, for the first time, wore the tiara to an official dinner at the palace this week. There is no confirmation on the tiara's ownership - and there probably won't be, as these are sensitive matters - but it does make for a bit of intrigue! (Update: Princess Margaretha still owns the tiara.)

Photos: Scanpix/Kungahuset.se/SVT