Happy Birthday to Queen Mathilde of Belgium, who turns 44 today. The daughter of Belgian and Polish Nobility, Mathilde married Prince Philippe, Duke of Brabant (then heir to the Belgian throne) in 1999. The couple have four children, and succeeded to the Belgian Throne in 2014, after the abdication of her father-in-law, King Albert II. Queen Mathilde carries out official duties, representing Belgium at home and abroad, and is patron to many charities and organisations. In honour of her birthday today, we will feature the Belgian Royal Tiaras.
The Nine Provinces Tiara is the grandest Tiara at Queen Mathilde’s disposal. It is composed on a meander bandeau base topped with eleven large diamonds representing the nine provinces of Belgium and its former colony of Congo. The diamonds are topped with arches. Made for Princess Astrid of Sweden when she married Crown Prince Leopold of Belgium in 1926, the tiara became one of her most worn Tiaras, worn to Royal events during her unfortunately short tenure as Queen of Belgium until her death in a car crash in 1935. The bandeau base was worn by Princess Lilian, the second wife of King Leopold, but the full version remained unworn until Fabiola de Mora y Aragó wore it when she married King Baudouin, eldest son of Astrid and Leopold, in 1960. The Nine Provinces tiara has been passed from Queen to Queen, in 1993 it was passed down to Queen Paola, who also wore it as a choker, and in 2013, it was given to Queen Mathilde. She wore the bandeau base for her first official Portrait as Queen, and the full Tiara at the 75th Birthday celebrations of Queen Margrethe of Denmark.
Made by Hennel & Sons in 1912, this diamond laurel wreath tiara can also be worn as a necklace. It was a wedding gift to then Princess Mathilde in 1999 from members of the Belgian Nobility, and was her only tiara when Crown Princess, though has been rarely worn since becoming Queen.
A wedding gift to Queen Fabiola by people from Belgian industry, the tiara was made by Belgian jeweller Wolfers as a necklace convertible to a Tiara. Worn by Queen Fabiola throughout her tenure as Queen Consort, it remained unworn until Queen Mathilde wore it on a State Visit to Poland in 2015. It has become a favourite piece, suitable for Black Tie banquets, and has also been worn as a necklace.
Made for Queen Elisabeth in the 1920s, this tiara was given to Queen Astrid to mark the birth of her third child in 1934. After her death, it was worn by her husband’s second wife, Princess Lilian, in the 1950s and given to Dona Paola Ruffo di Calabria when she married the aforementioned third child, Prince Albert of Belgium, in 1959. This was Princess Paola’s most worn tiara. Even after becoming Queen Paola in 1993, she continued to wear it for all but the grandest events. In 1999, she lent it to her daughter-in-law, now Queen Mathilde, to wear at her wedding. She also lent it to Elisabetta Rosboch von Wolkenstein when she married her grandson in 2014, and in 2016, Queen Paola lent the Diamond Bandeau to her daughter, Princess Astrid, for the first time.
Given as a wedding gift to Doña Fabiola de Mora y Aragón, from then Spanish Dictator Generalissimo Franco, the Spanish Wedding Gift Tiara can be worn in two different configurations and as a necklace. It has interchangeable emerald, ruby, and aquamarine centres. Queen Fabiola’s grandest Tiara, it worn throughout her tenure as Queen and also in her widowhood. The Tiara is thought to have passed to King Philippe and Queen Mathilde, but remains unworn. Many think Queen Mathilde is waiting for an appropriately grand event to made the debut.
Given to Princess Anne of Orléans when she married her cousin, the Duke of Aosta, in 1927. Early images show the Duchess wearing the Tiara low across her forehead in the 1920s style, later wearing it atop her head in a more conventional style. The Duchess loaned the Tiara to Princess Maria Beatrice of Savoy, and her daughter, Princess Margherita, eventually giving the Tiara to her as a wedding gift in 1953 when she married Archduke Robert of Austria. When her son, Archduke Lorenz, married Princess Astrid of Belgium in 1984, it became her signature Tiara, worn to almost all of her Royal events. There is also a smaller Savoy Aosta Tiara, worn by Princess Margherita at her Wedding in 1953 and by Princess Astrid at Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik’s 25th Wedding Anniversary Gala in 1992.
A wedding gift from King Albert and Queen Paola of Belgium to their new daughter-in-law in 2004, she wore the piece at her wedding and all of her early tiara occasions, most notably the Wedding of Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark.
At the wedding of Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden in 2010, Princess Claire debuted a new-to-her Pearl and Diamond Tiara, which many assumed was a loan, but was subsequently worn for the Wedding Balls in Monaco and Luxembourg.
For more information, check out last year’s Belgian Tiara events.