Danish Ruby Parure

Today marks the 20th Anniversary of the Death of Queen Ingrid of Denmark, who died on this day in 2000. The Swedish Princess who became the Danish Queen Consort and the mother of Queen MargrethePrincess Benedikte, and Queen Anne Marie of Greece, to mark the occasion, we could think of no better opportunity to throughly discuss the magnificent Danish Ruby Parure, which we have talked about before, one of the jewels most associated with Queen Ingrid’s memory.

Now consisting of diamond and ruby floral tiara, with a pair of versatile chandelier earrings, a versatile swag necklace which can also be worn in various configurations, a brooch, a bracelet, hairpins, and a ring, all set with diamonds and small rubies in clusters, to appear larger, the Danish Ruby Parure was made for the celebrated Coronation of Emperor Napoleon in 1804. Napoleon gave funds to his Marshals so their wives would be suitably bedecked, and one of them, Jean Baptiste Bernadotte, bought this parure for his wife, the former Désirée Clary, Napoleon’s one time fiancée. The Parure made its way over to Sweden when Jean Baptiste and Désirée became King Carl XIV Johan and Queen Desideria of Sweden. Queen Desideria left the parure to her daughter-in-law, Queen Josephine of Sweden, a grand daughter of Napoleon’s Empress Josephine, who gave it as a wedding gift to her granddaughter, who became Queen Lovisa of Denmark.

In 1898, Queen Lovisa gave the Tiara (then a flexible diamond wreath) as a wedding gift to her daughter-in-law, the later Queen Alexandrine, who inherited the rest of the parure after Queen Lovisa’s death in 1926. Despite being one of the most historic and substantial parures in the Danish Royal Family, the Ruby Parure was not publicly pictured until Queen Alexandrine wore the Bandeau Tiara for a series of portraits in 1920. One of the main reasons for that may be because the Tiara was quite small so did not feature in prominent portraits and photographs.

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In 1935, Queen Alexandrine gave the entire Ruby Parure, which then included a low wreath Tiara and two large corsage brooches, as a wedding gift to Princess Ingrid of Sweden, when she married Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark. The Ruby Parure was among her grandest sets of jewels for the rest of her life, and after wearing the Parure for her Wedding Gala in 1935, Crown Princess Ingrid also wore it for King Christian X’s Silver Jubilee in 1937King Gustav V’s 80th Birthday in 1938, a Visit to the United States in 1939 and at a Dinner in London in 1939. The Parure was also worn for the Liberation Gala at Royal Theatre in Copenhagen in 1945, celebrating the liberation of Denmark from Nazi Germany.

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Soon after the Accession of King Frederik IX of Denmark in 1947, Queen Ingrid had the low wreath bandeau of the Ruby Parure altered, using the two corsage brooches, into a more substantial Tiara, which was unveiled at her grandfather, King Gustav V’s, 90th Birthday in 1948. Despite gaining the use of the Danish Emerald Parure and the Pearl Poiré Tiara, the Ruby Parure remained one of Queen Ingrid’s most worn jewels, especially because the former could not be taken out of Denmark, and thus she needed more options for the many grand Tiara events on State Visits in those days. Queen Ingrid loaned the Ruby Parure to her daughter, Princess Benedikte, for a performance in the 1950s, but unlike her other tiaras, the Ruby Parure was never loaned to other family members and reserved for Queen Ingrid througout her life. Queen Margrethe has talked about how Queen Ingrid used to wear the Parure all the time, and that “it was her favourite piece of jewellery”, worn to important events like the Wedding Ball of King Constantine of Greece and her youngest daughter, Princess Anne Marie, in 1964.

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After being widowed in 1972, and passing on the the Danish Emerald Parure, the Pearl Poiré Tiara, and later her Floral Aigrette Tiara to Queen Margrethe, Queen Ingrid retained the Danish Ruby Parure which she continued to wear to grand events up until the end of her life, which included many State Visits, Banquets, and the Weddings of Prince Joachim in 1995 and Princess Alexandra of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg in 1998. Queen Ingrid wore the Ruby Parure for the last time at a Gala Performance during Queen Margrethe’s 60th Birthday celebrations in 2000, just weeks after her 90th birthday and a few months before her death on this day 20 years ago.

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Queen Ingrid wished for the Ruby Parure to remain with the Crown Prince and later King, and left it to her favourite grandson, Crown Prince Frederik, in 2000. Less than four years later, the soon to-be Crown Princess Mary wore the Ruby Parure for the first time at a Pre-Wedding Banquet at Christiansborg Palace and two days later at a Pre-Wedding Gala Performance at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen. Crown Princess Mary has talked about how ‘overwhelmed’ she felt during those days to wear such significant jewels:

This set belonging to Queen Ingrid, that was very much loved and admired by the Danish people. Here was I, coming from Australia about to marry their Crown Prince, and at that time I felt very much that I was loaning this set and its a process one goes through and over time you start to feel you can wear it in your own right, but over the years its felt much more like its mine and I wear it as Crown Princess Mary.”

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The Danish Ruby Parure is the most substantial of the four Tiaras Crown Princess Mary has access to, and as she grew more comfortable wearing it, in 2010, the Tiara was customised to fit the shape of Crown Princess Mary’s head, and two hair clips were created from the leftovers. The earrings and the necklace were also set with new mechanisms that allow them to worn in various configurations. The Crown Princess has admitted that ‘she likes to play with it’. The new Tiara was revealed at Queen Margrethe’s 70th Birthday celebrations in 2010, and a few months later, Crown Princess Mary took the Tiara out of Denmark for the first time, to wear at the Wedding of Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden. Since then, she has also worn the Tiara at the Pre-Wedding Gala of Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume of Luxembourg in 2012, and wore pieces of the Parure at the Enthronement of Emperor Naruhito of Japan last year.

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In 2018, Crown Princess Mary unveiled another new version of the Tiara at the annual Danish New Year’s Reception, which incorporated one of the new hairpins to create a higher design. The Ruby Parure is only reserved for the most formal events, like the New Year’s Receptions, big Birthday and Jubilee celebrations, and Official Portraits, but in recent years Crown Princess Mary has also worn the Parure at State Banquets, during Belgian State Visit in 2017 and the French State Visit in 2018. The Tiara and Parure were last seen at the annual Danish New Year’s Reception in January, and while next January’s reception may been cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic, there is no doubt we will continue to see this magnificent Heirloom Parure for years to come!

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Beau Monde

One thought on “Danish Ruby Parure

  1. It’s rather disappointing to see that Queen Ingrid “disbursed” her jewels amongst her three daughters. In this process some important jewels like Khedive of Egypt tiara, Ruby Bow Brooch have now left Danish Royal family. Worst part is a few years down the line they may appear on auction blocks. Even Alexandrine Drop tiara has left Danish royal family. I hope Queens Marghrete and Anne Marie make a Family foundation of whatever jewels they have with Royal ladies of both the families having access to these historic jewels.

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