04 December 2014

Tiara Thursday: The Edward VII Ruby Tiara

The wedding of Princess Margaret of Connaught (1882-1920) and Prince Gustaf Adolf of Sweden (the future King Gustaf VI Adolf) in 1905 yielded a typical landslide of jeweled gifts for the bride, including several pieces still in action at royal events today. The haul included tiaras such as the Connaught Tiara, still in Sweden with Queen Silvia, and the Khedive of Egypt Tiara, now with Greece’s Queen Anne-Marie, by way of Denmark. Today’s tiara (also called the Connaught Ruby Tiara, though I always get it confused with the diamond version that way) is another from that wedding haul, and another still in Sweden – though just barely.
The tiara and the sketch of the wedding jewels
This tiara was a gift from King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra to Princess Margaret, who was their niece. Made by E. Wolff & Co. and likely sold by Garrard, the gem includes a scrolling diamond design with three large upright motifs that resemble hearts, and rubies at the center of each upright as well as at the base. It can be removed from its base and worn as a necklace.
Princess Margaret
Margaret, who became Crown Princess of Sweden, died tragically in 1920 while pregnant with her sixth child. Her jewels were divided between her five surviving children. The ruby tiara was inherited by the couple’s son Prince Sigvard, just 13 at the time of his mother’s death. The path from Sigvard back to where the tiara lies today – with the current King and Queen – is a complicated one.
Prince Sigvard lost his royal title when he married a commoner in 1934. He would later find success as a graphic and industrial designer, but before that happened, he was in need of funds. He sold the ruby tiara to his father, King Gustaf VI Adolf, but the arrangement did not go as planned. Sigvard believed it to be a loan, and that the tiara would return to him when he had the funds. His father disagreed, considering it a sale, and instead left it to Sigvard’s son, Michael, in his will. That son then sold it back to King Carl XVI Gustaf.
The tiara was still worn occasionally by Sigvard Bernadotte’s second wife, Sonja, as well as his third wife, Marianne (who wore it both as a tiara and as a necklace). But, along with his firm belief that he should get his prince title back since the family laws had changed, the tiara’s ownership remained a source of bitterness. He was open about the conflict, objecting when Queen Silvia wore the tiara to the 1995 wedding of Prince Joachim of Denmark and Alexandra Manley (first Silvia picture above, in the red and gold). And for a long time, the tiara was scarcely used by Queen Silvia. After that 1995 appearance, she did not wear it until 2007 (pictured above, in the pink dress).
What was different in 2007? Well, Sigvard Bernadotte died in 2002. Since then the diadem has been used more regularly by Queen Silvia. In 2013 she wore it in the necklace form, which she hadn't done since 1988. Like the Connaught Diamond Tiara, it is a shape made to be worn in the voluminous hairstyles popular at the time of its creation, and that makes it tough to wear today. But Queen Silvia, who has not yet shared the tiara with her daughters, is up to the task. 

Where does this rank on your list of favorite Swedish tiaras?

With the Nobel Prize tiara events approaching, my wish this year is something I wish for every year: anything new or rare on the jewel front. Not a new jewel, I am being somewhat realistic here, but someone wearing something they haven’t worn before or something beyond the expected. This is one of the tiaras that I wait for Silvia to share...

Photos: Illustrated London News, Royal Court of Sweden, Wikimedia Commons, Anthony Jones/Julian Parker/UK Press and Pool via Getty Images, Presidência da República Portuguesa