Made for a British-German Princess who became a Romanov Grand Duchess, sold to a Greek Queen of Romania, worn by her daughter-in-law, and currently worn by the Custodian of the Romanian Crown, the Romanian Greek Key Tiara has been worn by a series of powerful women who never let their dire circumstances hinder their ability to fulfil their duty.
Made for Princess Victoria Melita of Edinburgh and Saxe-Coburg-Gotha around the time of her second marriage in 1905, the Tiara is composed of large diamond ‘Greek Key’ motifs joined by diamond ‘batons’, and was originally set on a Kokoshnik. Princess Victoria Melita was first married to her paternal first cousin, the Grand Duke of Hesse, but divorced from him soon after the death of their grandmother, Queen Victoria. She then married her maternal first cousin, Grand Duke Cyril Vladimirovich of Russia, a cousin of the Tsar (who was also her former brother-in-law). As a wedding present, he presented his bride with the Greek Key tiara, which she wore in a portrait (attached to a Russian Kokoshnik) in 1913 with her two daughters. However, the Grand Duke and Duchess were forced to flee Russia during the 1917 Revolution, and later, he became the Head of the House of Romanov, after confirmation of the death of the Emperor and other heirs to the throne. Victoria Meletia sold her jewels to fund the restoration of the monarchy, but ultimately failed. Their daughter, Grand Duchess Kira, married the pretender to the Prussian Throne.
In 1921, the Greek Key Tiara was bought by Queen Marie of Romania, sister of Victoria Melita, as a wedding present for her daughter-in-law, Princess Helen of Greece, when she married Crown Prince Carol. The new Crown Princess, a sister of 3 Kings of Greece and the Duchess of Aosta, wore the Tiara on her wedding day and at every tiara event afterwards, including the coronation of her parents-in-law in 1922. She was divorced in the mid-1920s, when her husband left their son and his throne for another woman. Princess Helen wore the Greek Key Tiara for official portraits after her son was proclaimed King Michael in 1927. After her husband’s return to Romania and her subsequent exile till he was ousted in 1940, she kept the Tiara in her possession. After her return during her husband’s reign, she was made the Queen Mother of Romania and wore the tiara, often with Queen Marie’s diamond sautoir. When the Romanian Royal family was exiled in 1947, she again fled with the greek key tiara, wearing it at royal events in the 1960s, and kept it until her death in 1982.
In 1947, just a few months into exile, Queen Helen loaned the Tiara to Princess Anne of Bourbon Parma, along with a diamond sautoir, when she married King Michael in Athens. Queen Anne borrowed the Tara again in 1960 for the wedding ball of King Baudouin and Queen Fabiola of Belgium. She inherited the Tiara after Queen Helen’s death in 1982. Queen Anne entered Romania for the first time in 1993, and the couple were returned the ownership of some of their properties in 1997.
In 1995, Queen Anne of Romania loaned the Greek Key Tiara to her daughter, Princess Marie for her wedding to Casimir Mystkowski.
At some point in the 1990s, Queen Anne passed the Greek Key Tiara to her eldest daughter, Crown Princess Margareta, who wears the Tiara regularly at foreign royal events, and at official dinners in Romania. Crown Princess Margareta, along with her husband, Prince Radu, undertake public duties for and with the Romanian Republic, and she often attends foreign royal events, representing King Michael. They reside in the Elisabeta Palace in Bucharest. The Greek Key Tiara was last seen at the Wedding ball of Crown Prince Leka of Albania last October.