22 March 2018

Tiara Thursday: The Belgian Scroll Tiara, Revisited

Luxembourg’s doing their best to make up for a tiara-less state banquet earlier this week. They brought along an unexpected number of family members for the return dinner, and they released a glittering new portrait of the Grand Duchess to celebrate her birthday! (Which is today; she is 62. Happy birthday, Maria Teresa!)

Lola Velasco/Cour grand-ducale
Splendid, right? She’s wearing the tremendously flattering Yves Dooms evening gown she wore for the 2017 National Day gala. She’s also repeating the Belgian Scroll Tiara, and it’s about time we refreshed our thoughts on this gem. Especially since, for the past few years, it has been Grand Duchess Maria Teresa’s unequivocal favorite.

The Belgian Scroll Tiara
The Belgian Scroll Tiara is a diamond tiara of palmette, crescent, and scroll motifs made by Henry Coosemans in 1953. There are 854 diamonds here, all set in platinum, with a total weight of 46.42 carats. The center stone is an 8.1 carat diamond that can be removed and worn as a ring, and the central element can be worn as a brooch. It was a gift from the Sociéte Générale to Princess Joséphine-Charlotte of Belgium when she married Hereditary Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg that same year.

Princess Joséphine-Charlotte on her wedding day
Joséphine-Charlotte wore this for her wedding portrait, having already worn the Congo Diamond Necklace Tiara for the ceremony. (If you can’t pull a two tiara day on your wedding day, when can you?) She continued to wear the tiara throughout her years as the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, even after her husband had abdicated in favor of their son, Henri. She did allow her daughter-in-law, Princess Sibilla, to borrow it.

Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte
Several years ago, the Belgian Scroll Tiara came terribly close to losing its place in the family collection. The diadem was Joséphine-Charlotte’s personal property; when she died in 2005, her five children seemed to have had some difficulty dividing up her assets. In 2006, an auction through Sotheby’s was announced. A large quantity of her personal jewels and other valuable possessions were to be sold by the family. Among the loot: this tiara, her other wedding tiara, and jewels from her parents, King Leopold III and Queen Astrid of the Belgians.

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Princess Sibilla borrows the tiara in 2002
The jewels were private property, so it was completely within the family’s rights to do as they pleased with them. Nevertheless, the auction caused a public outcry. Rumors of tension among siblings and in-laws popped up, as well as all the old talk of the damaged relationship between Joséphine-Charlotte and her daughter-in-law Maria Teresa. Not only that, but the family’s finances and judgment were called into question by some. In other words: all the things that a royal house does not want questioned were suddenly a point of discussion. In light of this, the auction was cancelled.

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Grand Duchess Maria Teresa, also wearing the Chaumet Diamond and Pearl Choker Tiara around her neck
The Belgian Scroll Tiara was thus salvaged, along with several other major pieces of jewelry. (The family still sold off some more minor pieces; they just did it in a quieter fashion.) The tiara is now a firm favorite with Grand Duchess Maria Teresa. She’s worn it for the past two National Day galas, plus a state visit and the Norwegian birthday gala in 2017, among other occasions. I’d love to see it on Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie (who is Belgian), should MT decide to release her grip.

Does this rank among your favorite Luxembourg tiaras?