Happy Birthday to Princess Irene of the Netherlands, who turns 78 today! Click HERE to learn about her. The second daughter of Queen Juliana of the Netherlands, she had one signature Tiara, the Ruby Peacock Tiara (which we have already covered), from the Dutch vaults, but today, we are featuring the stunning Diamond Tiara from her husband’s family- the Bourbon-Parmas.
Some diamonds of the tiara are said to come from the Duchess of Angoulême, daughter of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, and the piece was probably made in Vienna by Köchert. The diamonds eventually ended up with Robert, Duke of Parma, a grand-nephew of the Duchess, and were worn by his second wife, née Infanta Maria Antonia of Portugal, at a couple of occasions including a the wedding of her step-daughter, from Duke Robert’s first wife, in 1906, an official portrait, and the 1911 wedding of their daughter, Princess Zita to Archduke Charles of Austria, who later became the last Emperor and Empress of Austria.
Later, Infanta Maria Antonia wore the Bourbon-Parma Tiara for the Wedding of Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg and her son, Prince Felix, in 1919 as well as the Wedding Ball of another son, Prince René of Bourbon-Parma, and Princess Margaret of Denmark in 1921. Infanta Maria Antonia, Duchess of Parma died in 1959, and the Tiara seems to have passed through the Ducal Line and was inherited by her grandson, Prince Carlos Hugo.
The first time the Tiara was pictured on Princess Irene was at her wedding to Prince Carlos Hugo, Duke of Parma in Rome in 1964. She also wore it on a visit to the Pope at the Vatican later the same day. The wedding caused a lot of controversy, due to the couple’s Catholic religion and ties to fascist Spain, and her family was not present at the wedding.
Princess Irene wore the Bourbon-Parma Tiara, often with a ruby in the center, at glittering events throughout the 1960s and 1970s, including Banquets, Balls, Gala Performances, and Official Portraits, as well as a famous candid photograph. One of the last occasions Princess Irene wore the Tiara was a Banquet at the Palace of Versailles during the Dutch State Visit to France. When the couple divorced in 1981, the Tiara remained with the Bourbon-Parma family. However, in 1996, the family entrusted the tiara to an attorney in Paris, where it was ‘lost’ (most likely stolen) and the attorney’s office had to pay €3,022,500 to the Bourbon-Parma family as compensation. The Tiara has never been recovered, and nowadays Princess Irene and her Bourbon-Parma children mostly borrow Tiaras from the Dutch Royal Vaults.
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