Today marks the 55th Anniversary of the Death of Queen Elisabeth of Belgium, who died on this day in 1965! The illustrious Bavarian Duchess who was the beloved Belgian Queen, Queen Mother, and Queen Grandmother, Queen Elisabeth possessed a meagre jewellery collection, with today’s Diamond Bandeau being one of her earliest surviving jewels.
A flexible Diamond Bandeau in the Belle Epoque style, which could be worn with either a Sapphire or an Aquamarine Brooch at its centre, the Bandeau probably dates from the later part of the 1910s. Despite having been Queen since 1909, Queen Elisabeth does not appear to have possessed any substantial jewels, like a Tiara, and those which she did own may probably have been sold during the Belgian occupation in the First World War, so she was left to build her jewellery collection again after the end of the war. This bandeau was one of the earliest acquisitions, made by Altenloh, followed by the more famous Cartier Bandeau Tiara and an Art Deco Diamond Bandeau Tiara.
Queen Elisabeth wore her Diamond Bandeau for a plethora of Official Portraits and Gala events in the early 1920s, including an important State Visit to Britain in 1922, a Visit to the Vatican in 1922, and she continued wearing it up until the 1930s and 1940s, Queen Juliana’s Inauguration Gala in 1948, though in latter years she preferred wearing her Cartier Bandeau Tiara.
After Queen Elisabeth’s death in 1965, the Diamond Bandeau was inherited by her only daughter, Queen Marie José of Italy, who did not wear it publicly, and left it to her daughter, Princess Maria Gabriella of Savoy, in 2001. Princess Maria Gabriella has worn the Bandeau as a Necklace in recent years, using the Aquamarine Brooch as a pendant. Since the Bandeau has not appeared at Auction like many of the jewels inherited by Princess Maria Gabriella, the heirloom will probably pass on to her only daughter.