Given as a wedding present from Queen Victoria to her eldest daughter, who eventually became Empress of Germany, in 1858, this glittering tiara was later given to her third daughter, eventually Queen of Greece, who left it to her second daughter, the Duchess of Aosta, and was sold after her death. It was also loaned to Queen Anne of Romania.
In 1858, Queen Victoria gave her eldest daughter, Victoria, the Princess Royal a “diamond “corsage” to be worn as a necklace or head ornament” when she married the Crown Prince of Germany. Featuring diamond spikes topped with diamonds on a base of large diamond collets, the diamonds are either Indian or Brazilian. After the wedding, the couple had to wait years before eventually Emperor and Empress of Germany, though only for three months, as Emperor Frederick died of cancer. They were succeeded by their eldest son, Kaiser Wilhelm II, who eventually started WWI. Empress Frederick, as she preferred to be known, loaned her mothers wedding gift to her third daughter, Princess Sophie (by then Crown Princess of Greece) for the wedding of Princess Maud of Wales. However, her personal maid, who had accompanied Princess Sophie wrote the Empress a message about the Princess’s lack of jewels, to which she wrote to her daughter; “Emma gave me your message that you thought you had fewer jewels than the others at the wedding. I cannot quite agree, you may have fewer diamond brooches but such a set of turquoise as you have very people possess, and also such a set of rubies, and the diamond diadem I gave you is very valuable as the stones are old. Cape diamonds may be much more effective and large and showy, but not so good and fine. Indeed I wish I had more to give you, but you must wait until I die, or am older and need no longer wear jewels, then I can give you a few more, and be pleased to see them on your dear neck.”
Eventually, the tiara was inherited by Crown Princess (Queen after 1913) Sophie, who wore it an a portrait with her grandson, King Michael of Romania, and on her profile on a stamp. Never a favourite like her other diamond tiara, Queen Sophia managed to retain the piece during frequent periods in exile, and on her death in 1932, left the tiara to her second daughter, Princess Irene.
Princess Irene wore the diamond tiara in a couple of portraits in the 1930s, and famously wore it at her 1939 wedding to Prince Aimone, Duke of Sopolet, a cousin of the Italian King, who succeeded his brother as the Duke of Aosta in 1942, and died in South America in 1947. Their son became the Duke of Aosta, and remains so to this day. Princess Irene, Duchess of Aosta wore her diamond tiara on a visit to the Vatican and at royal events well into the 1960s. After she died in 1974, the tiara was inherited by her son, who sold it at Christie’s in 1979.
In 1962, Princess Irene loaned the diamond tiara to her niece in law, Queen Anne of Romania, daughter-in-law of her sister Queen Helen, for the wedding ball of Prince Juan Carlos of Spain and Princess Sophia of Greece.
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