Today marks the Bicentenary of the Birth of Duchess Alexandrine of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, who was born on this day in 1820! The daughter of the Grand Duke of Baden and Princess Sophie of Sweden, Princess Alexandrine married Duke Ernest II of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the brother of Prince Albert, the Prince Consort. Though the couple had no children, and the Duke had numerous affairs, the Duchess remained fiercely devoted to her husband, much to the consternation of their family, particularly Queen Victoria. She remained a prominent figure in the Royal Family after his death in 1894, passing away in 1904. To mark the Anniversary, we are featuring Duchess Alexandrine’s Emerald Necklace Tiara (the result of long research over the past two years), as well as her Emerald Necklace!
The necklace of nine graduated emeralds each set into a frame of old-mine cut diamonds and suspending five similarly-set diamond and emerald drops was a wedding gift from Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, presented by Lord George Lennox on April 22nd, 1842 with the note “For Alexandrine, from us both, a very handsome parure of emeralds and diamonds.”
Unfortunately, Duchess Alexandrine was not pictured wearing the Emerald Necklace, and it was not inherited by her successor, Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna (who was also widowed by 1904), but seems to have been inherited by the then (and last) the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. The heirloom was worn as a Tiara by his wife, Princess Victoria Adelaide, Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and Albany for one of her first portraits as the Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. It was retained as personal property when the Duchy was abolished after the First World War, and was also worn at the Wedding of Prince Christian of Schaumburg-Lippe and Princess Feodora of Denmark in 1937. After the Second World War, the family went through financial hardships, which coupled with inheritance cases by family members, led to Princess Victoria Adelaide selling the Emerald Necklace Tiara at Sotheby’s in London on 29 June 1967. The necklace appeared again at Auction at Sotheby’s in New York in 2002, when it was sold for $141,500 USD. The Saxe-Coburg and Gotha Royal Family still own quite a few jewels like their Turquoise Parure and the Duchess of Albany’s Diamond Necklace.
While she wasn’t pictured wearing the Emerald Necklace Tiara, Duchess Alexandrine did wear this other necklace of Emeralds and Diamonds with a Diamond Tiara for a Portrait taken around the time of her Golden Wedding Anniversary in 1893. This necklace was also sold at Sotheby’s in 1967, but has not reappeared since.