Happy Birthday to HRH the Duchess of Gloucester, who turns 70 today. The Danish-born Birgitte Eva Henriksen didn’t expect to become Duchess when she married Prince Richard of Gloucester, a cousin of the Queen Elisabeth II, in 1972, but the death of his brother, Prince William, six weeks after the wedding, and his father two years later, brought the couple to the center of the Royal stage. They have supported the Queen ever since.
As Duchess of Gloucester, Birgitte has attended many official events and represented the Queen on foreign visits. The Gloucester’s have managed to keep their jewel collection almost intact, unlike their cousins the Kent’s. The Duchess has worn the many Gloucester Tiara’s on State events for over 40 years.
Gloucester Honeysuckle Tiara
This tiara, consisting of a diamond frame of honeysuckle or palmette motifs that leads up to a larger interchangeable center, was commissioned by Queen Mary in 1913-14. She gave it as a wedding present to her daughter-in-law, Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, in 1935. She gave it to her daughter-in-law, the current Duchess, in the 1970s. The tiara has three interchangeable centers: the diamond honeysuckle, the pink topaz, and an emerald surrounded by diamonds. This is the grandest and most worn tiara of the Duchess.
Teck Turquoise Tiara
This tiara, made around 1850 and is composed of diamonds and turquoise stones set in a central sunburst motif surrounded by rococo scrolls, was a wedding gift to Queen Mary by her parents. She gave it as a wedding present to her daughter-in-law, Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, in 1935, who gave it to her daughter-in-law, the current Duchess. It is not her most worn tiara, but it includes a substantial parure.
Cartier Indian Tiara
This early 20th century tiara, rendered solidly in diamonds, sapphires, and pearls, was made for the fascinating Princess Marie Louise, who bequeathed it to her godson, Prince Richard, at her death in 1965. This tiara is occasionally worn by the Duchess, often with one from her large collection of pearl chokers. It was ‘worn’ by her daughter, Lady Davina, in a fun portrait in the 1980s.
This tiara, a tightly packed design of diamond scrolls and foliage in a kokoshnik shape, was given as a wedding gift to Queen Mary by Lord & Lady Iveagh. She bequeathed it to her daughter-in-law, Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, in 1953, who passed it on to the current Duchess. This tiara has only been worn a few times by the Duchess. It was also worn as a wedding tiara by her daughter, Lady Rose Gilman in 2008.
A tiara, formed of diamond and platinum wide bandeau with clusters of large diamonds and alternative centres forming emerald and diamond brooches, was a wedding gift to Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester in 1935. The current duchess was only photographed in the piece once, using the emerald setting. The Duchess converted her mother-in-law’s diamond necklace into a tiara for the pre-wedding gala for the wedding of King Carl-Gustav of Sweden in 1976.
I wish HRH many Happy returns, and hope for her continued attendance at glittering royal events.