Today’s glittering Fringe Tiara, also known as Maria Alexandrovna’s Fringe Tiara, was a Romanov Wedding Gift that went from Russia to the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Romania, Yugoslavia, and eventually was sold in exile. As always, click on the underlined / highlighted links to get to the post about a person / tiara / or event.
Made for Tsar Alexander II of Russia in 1874 as a Wedding gift for his only daughter, Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrova, when she was marrying Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, the second son of Queen Victoria. Composed of diamond bars divided by diamond spikes, this tiara is fashioned on the traditional Russian court diadem, the kokoshnik.
Upon her arrival in the United Kingdom, Maria Alexandrovna flaunted her ancestry and magnificent jewels, much to the dislike of Queen Victoria and her sister-in-laws. After a period in Malta, the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh were the Duke and Duchess of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, a German sovereign state, in 1887. As Duchess of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Maria Alexandrovna wore her father’s Wedding gift tiara for an official portrait. She also wore the fringe tiara at the grand coronation of her nephew, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, in 1896, along with her stunning Bolin ruby necklace. Upon the Duchess’s death in 1920, after widowhood and exile, the Fringe Tiara was left to the youngest of her four daughters, Princess Beatrice.
Princess Beatrice, always known as ‘Baby-Bee’, had married Infante Alfonso, Duke of Galliera, a first cousin of then King Alfonso of Spain, in 1909. But, despite approval from the ing, the government refused to give permission on the grounds of religious differences, and banished the couple from Spain until 1912. The Duchess of Galliera wore her mother’s Fringe Tiara at the grand Coronation of her sister, Queen Marie of Romania, in 1922. She also wore is at a Spanish Royal Wedding in the 1920s and an official portrait. In the 1930s, she sold the Tiara to buy a hospital and outpatient clinic during the Spanish Civil War.
Fortunately, the buyer was none other than her sister, Queen Marie of Romania, who was a widow by that point. Queen Marie wore the Fringe Tiara in two portraits by famous artist, Phillip de Lazlo, and at an Official banquet with her diamond sautoir. After her death in 1938, the tiara was inherited by her second daughter, Queen Marie of Yugoslavia.
By 1938, Queen Marie of Yugoslavia had been a widow for four years. Living a relatively normal life in the United Kingdom, she had little occasion to wear the fringe tiara, which coupled with WWII and the subsequent exile of the Yugoslavian Royal Family meant that Queen Marie wasn’t photographed wearing the Fringe Tiara until she decided to auction the piece, along with a eagle corsage ornament, in 1960, when she wore it for promotional portraits.
The Tiara was sold for £ 10,800 on July 21, 1960 at Sotheby’s in London to dealer Levy-Cohen, and hasn’t been seen since.
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