Today marks the centenary of the Death of Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna, Duchess of Edinburgh and Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, who died on this day in 1920. The imperious Russian Grand Duchess who possessed a myriad of jewels so magnificent, including her Bolin Ruby Tiara and Fringe Tiara, that it made her mother-in-law, Queen Victoria jealous, so to mark the Anniversary, we are taking a look at the Saxe-Coburg and Gotha Diamond Tiara!
Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna married Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, the second son of Queen Victoria, who, in 1893, succeeded his childless uncle as the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and she became the Sovereign Consort of the small German Duchy. Featuring an ornate design of diamond swags and scrolls set with several old-mine and rose-cut diamonds, the Diamond Tiara is of a high Victorian design, and was most likely a Saxe-Coburg and Gotha Heirloom because it, unlike her Bolin Ruby Tiara and Fringe Tiara, was not among the Grand Duchess’ wedding gifts. The Tiara was worn for an official portrait and at the Wedding of her daughter, Princess Alexandra to the Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg in 1896. In her widowhood, the Grand Duchess maintained five residences in Germany and France, but had to flee to Switzerland during WWI, because of anti-Russian sentiment. During the Russian Revolution, she lost many members of her family, and the bulk of her fortune. She passed away of a heart attack in Switzerland on this day in 1920, reportedly after receiving a telegram addressed to ‘Frau Coburg’.
Another indicator that the Tiara was a Saxe-Coburg and Gotha Heirloom is that it was passed along to Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna’s successor, Princess Victoria Adelaide, Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and Albany, and worn by her in the first decade of the 20th century, for one of her first portraits as the Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, which was when it was last publicly pictured. The design of the Tiara was quite large and heavy and ill suited to hairstyles after the First World War, when the Duchy was abolished. It is quite likely that it was either broken up or sold sometime after the Second World War, when the family was undergoing financial hardships. However, they still own quite a few jewels like their Turquoise Parure and the Duchess of Albany’s Diamond Necklace.