Today marks the 90th Birthday of Princess Marie Gabrielle of Bavaria, Dowager Princess von Waldburg zu Zeil und Trauchburg! The Bavarian Princess married into the illustrious Princely Family, the Princess has worn many magnificent jewels, but today’s piece is not a Bavarian or Waldburg Zeil Heirloom. To mark Princess Marie Gabrielle’s 90th birthday, we are featuring the magnificent Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara, one of the most famous, yet most frequently misidentified, Royal Jewels which passed from the British Royal Family to Royal Families in Neustrelitz, Montenegro, and possibly Patiala before returning to Germany!
But first, lets learn about Princess Marie Gabrielle of Bavaria, Dowager Princess von Waldburg zu Zeil und Trauchburg! The the daughter of Duke Albrecht of Bavaria and Countess Maria Draskovich zu Trakostjan, she is the sister of the Duke of Bavaria and the Duke in Bavaria, growing up at a family Schloss in Bad Kreuth. During the Second World War, the family fled Bavaria to an estate in Hungary but in 1944, they were arrested and sent to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp and the Flossenbürg concentration camp, before being imprisoned in the Dachau concentration camp, where they were liberated by the Allies in 1945. The Royal Family returned to their extensive properties in Bavaria, but her step-grandmother, Crown Princess Antonia, refused to set foot in Germany. In 1957, Princess Marie Gabrielle married Georg, Prince von Waldburg zu Zeil und Trauchburg, one of the largest private landowners in Germany and among the wealthiest Noble Families. The couple had 6 children, including the current Prince von Waldburg zu Zeil und Trauchburg and 21 grandchildren before his death in 2015, and resided at Schloss Zeil. We wish HRH a very Happy Birthday and Many Happy Returns!
Featuring pear-shaped pearls suspended in a frame of Diamond Lover’s Knots, topped by more pear-shaped pearls, the Tiara was likely created in Germany in the early 19th century. The Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara is the most famous of five or six identical Lover’s Knot Tiaras in existence. A similar Tiara was created around the same time for the Queen of Bavaria and still belongs to the Bavarian Royal Family, while another created for Yusupov Princely Family, disappeared after the Russian Revolution. A fourth Tiara belonged to Princess Maria Immaculata of Saxony, Princess of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, a fifth (likely the Cambridge one) belonged to the Patiala Royal Family while the most famous Lover’s Knot Tiara is with the British Royal Family and is now worn by the Duchess of Cambridge. One of the aforementioned Lover’s Knot Tiaras appeared at Auction at Christie’s in 1985, though it is not known if it was the Yusupov or the Saxony one.
The Lover’s Knot Tiara was a wedding gift to Princess Augusta of Hesse-Cassel when she married Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge, the seventh son of King George III, in 1818. The Duchess of Cambridge wore her Lover’s Knot Tiara for a series of portraits and illustrations and was notably depicted wearing it at the Coronation of Queen Victoria in 1838 and at the Wedding of Victoria, Princess Royal and Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia in 1858.
Eventually, the Duchess of Cambridge passed on the Lover’s Knot Tiara to her elder daughter, Princess Augusta, who was the Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg Strelitz, and wore the Tiara for a series of portraits as well as the Coronation of King Edward VII in 1902. The design of the Tiara was so popular that her niece, Queen Mary, had a replica Tiara made by Garrards in 1914, which is now worn by the Duchess of Cambridge. After the Grand Duchess’ death in 1916, while her Sapphire Parure was inherited by Queen Mary, the Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara was inherited by her granddaughter, Crown Princess Jutta of Montenegro.
At some point in the 1920s, Crown Princess Jutta sold the Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara, after which the Tiara went off the radar until 1981. However, the celebrated author Vincent Meylan suggests that the Tiara was bought by the Maharaja Sir Yadavindra Singh of Patiala, and was the one worn by Maharani Mohinder Kaur in the 1930s, though the central pearl is a different shape than the original. That Tiara probably remained in the Patiala Treasury until it was sold in the 1980s, likely the one Auctioned at Christie’s in 1985.
The actual Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara appeared at Auction at Christie’s in Geneva in 1981, where it was sold for 280,000 Swiss Francs, and was bought by the Prince von Waldburg zu Zeil und Trauchburg and Princess Marie Gabrielle, who wore it to many Balls and Galas in the 1990s, including the Wedding Ball of her son, Prince Erich von Waldburg zu Zeil und Trauchburg and Duchess Mathilde of Württemberg, daughter of Duke Carl of Württemberg and Princess Diane of Orleans. Princess Marie Gabrielle also wore the Lover’s Knot Tiara at the Wedding Ball of Duchess Mathilde’s brother, Duke Philipp of Württemberg, to her niece, Duchess Marie-Caroline in Bavaria, at Schloss Nymphenburg in 1991. The Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara is nearly identical to the Bavarian Lover’s Knot Tiara that belongs to Princess Marie Gabrielle’s family.
In 2018, the Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara was worn by the aforementioned Duchess Mathilde of Württemberg, the current Princess von Waldburg zu Zeil und Trauchburg at the Wedding Ball of her niece, Duchess Sophie von Württemberg, the eldest daughter of Duke Philipp von Württemberg and Duchess Marie Caroline of Bavaria, and Count Maximilien d’Andigné at Schloss Tegernsee. There is no doubt we will continue to see the Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara worn for years to come!