Norwegian Emerald Parure

Today marks the 185th Anniversary of the Birth of Queen Sophia of Sweden and Norway, who was born on this day in 1836! The Nassau Princess amassed a huge jewellery collection (full of family heirlooms) that has been spread among her descendants from various European dynasties. In honour of the birthday of the late Queen, we are featuring the Leuchtenberg Emerald Parure.

Queen Sofia’s 9-Prong Tiara | Star and Pearl Tiara

Click HERE to see the full version of this article!

Despite the fact that its origin (and maker) have not yet been established with complete certainty, various sources claim that this Parure could have been the wedding gift that Emperor Napoleon gave to his stepdaughter-in-law, Princess Augusta of Bayern, when she married Eugène de Beauharnais in 1806. It was some sort of  tradition that the Emperor would offer an emerald tiara to the brides of his family. It happened when Hortense de Beauharnais married Napoleon’s brother, Luis Napoleon, when Stepanie de Beauharnais married Charles of Baden and when Napoleon himself married Archduchess Marie Louise.

In 1829, Amelie, the daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Leuchtenberg (Eugène and Augusta), became the second wife of Dom Pedro I, Emperor of Brazil. To mark this occasion, she was showered with precious gifts. Her mother gave her  a parure consisting of a tiara, earrings, necklace and brooch, all set in diamonds and emeralds, that was part of her own jewellery collection. The choice of the stones (emeralds) may have been deliberate, as they echo the colours of the Brazilian flag (yellow and green). The same may have happened when Duchess Augusta decided to give the Leuchtenberg Sapphire Parure as a gift to her daughter Josephine on the occasion of her marriage to Crown Prince Oscar of Sweden, in 1823 (the Swedish flag is blue and yellow). When Amelie arrived in Rio de Janeiro in January 1829, the first thing that occurred after she disembarked was a nuptial blessing. On that day, the new Empress of Brazil was wearing the emeralds, which can be seen in the beautiful painting made by Jean-Baptiste Debret.

Embed from Getty Images

Empress Amelie lived a very tumultuous life. In fact, her tenure as Empress was really short, her husband abdicated in 1831, so he could return to Europe in order to help his daughter, Maria II of Portugal, retaining her throne. He had to fight a war against his younger brother, Infante Dom Miguel, who proclaimed himself King.  During this period, this Parure, together with some of Amelie’s other jewels such as the Braganza Tiara put in pawn in London as collateral for a loan to finance this war. Thankfully, she was able to retrieve all her precious posssessions, as her husband’s party won the war. On the other hand, she probably didn’t have much opportunity to use them again because she became a widow in 1834, age 22. 

When Empress Amelie died in 1873, she left the major part of her estate (the Emerald Parure included) to her eldest sister, Queen Josephine of Sweden, because her only daughter, Princess Maria Amélia, had died twenty years earlier. This caused a huge dismay to the Portuguese Royal Family, who had hoped they would inherit some of the Empress’ treasured possessions. Queen Josephine in turn left the Emerald Parure to her daughter-in-law, Queen Sofia of Sweden and Norway, who was pictured with the Tiara for a portrait, and also some of other elements of the Parure with the Braganza Tiara for a few occasions.

She also loaned it to her granddaughter-in-law, Crown Princess Margareta, when she and her husband Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf (Queen Sofia’s grandson) represented the Swedish Royal Family at the coronation of King George V and Queen Mary in 1911. On this occasion the Crown Prince couple was photographed with Margareta’s family: her parents, the Duke and Duchess of Connaught and her brother and sister, Prince Arthur and Princess Patricia.

When Queen Sofia died, in 1913, she left this parure to her beloved daughter-in-law, Princess Ingeborg, who was married to Sofia’s third son, Prince Carl. She was a prominent figure in the Swedish court, performing the role of first lady of the country most of the time. Princess Ingeborg was the responsible person behind the serious changes that the tiara and the necklace from the Parure underwent. The two pear-shaped emeralds that surrounded the large central square emerald were removed from the tiara and replaced by two palmette motifs. These two drop stones were converted into a pair of earrings.

Embed from Getty Images

Also, the seven original pendants of the necklace were removed and distributed by the Princess among her daughters: Princess Margaretha, Crown Princess Martha, and Queen Astrid. Each one of the Princesses received one set of emeralds from their parents on their respective weddings, that comprised a pair of earrings, a brooch and one of the pendants from the necklace. Queen Astrid’s set ended up being dismantled and converted into the Van Cleef & Arpels Peacock Tiara commissioned by her daughter, Grand Duchess Josephine-Charlotte of Luxembourg. Princess Margaretha had two of the pendants converted into a brooch, while the ones received by Crown Princess Martha seems to have remained intact.

Princess Ingeborg made good use of this parure, choosing to wear it for various important events, such as the Wedding of Crown Prince Leopold of Belgium and Princess Astrid of Sweden in Stockholm and in Brussels in 1926, the Wedding Gala of Crown Prince Olav of Norway and Princess Martha of Sweden in 1929, the Wedding Gala of Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and Princess Ingrid of Sweden in 1935, and King Christian X’s Silver Jubilee in 1937,  King Gustaf V’s 80th Birthday in 1938.

Embed from Getty Images

In 1937, Crown Princess Martha borrowed the Emerald Parure from her mother for a couple of occasions. One of those was the christening of her son, Prince Harald, who would later become King Harald V of Norway. The emeralds were also worn by the Crown Princess at the Coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth at Westminster Abbey. During World War II, Norway was invaded by the Germans and so the Royal Family had to leave the country. In August 1940, Crown Princess Martha and her children embarked to America, seeking for safety. On their way, they made a stop in Martha’s home country, the neutral Sweden, staying in the company of her parents. On the day of their departure, Princess Ingeborg accompanied them to the train station in Stockholm. While saying goodbye to her daughter, she handed her a package, wrapped in a scarf. Inside there was this Emerald Parure that was meant to serve as a “life insurance”, ie. if the Crown Princess was experiencing any kind of financial constraints, she was meant to sell the emeralds. In the Scandinavian Royal Jewels Documentary, Queen Silvia of Sweden recalls this story:

Queen Josephine, she had quite an important collection of parures and the emeralds… they are very significant, of course because they have a special story! Princess Ingeborg told her daughter: “please take these jewels and if you need money don’t hesitate to sell it”. Because they went into exile and had to leave Norway. “

In the recent and much criticized drama series “Atlantic Crossing“, they tried to reproduce this situation. On the second episode, while Crown Princess Martha (Sofia Helin) says goodbye to her brother, Prince Carl, her mother enters the room with a tiara wrapped in a scarf. Princess Ingeborg gives it to her daughter saying “If anything goes wrong, sell it! Take care of your children, Martha! Take care of you!”. 

Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images

Thankfully, the Crown Princess and her children were able to return to Norway once the war ended. There was no need to sell the Emerald Parure, so it safely returned to Norway too. Soon it becomes one of Martha’s most worn jewellery set, due to its importance and beauty. The Crown Princess choose to wear it for various important events, such as Queen Juliana’s Inauguration Gala, the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and Crown Prince Olav’s 50th Birthday

Sadly,  Crown Princess Martha died of cancer in 1954. The Emerald Parure was then inherited by her son, Prince Harald. However, while he was not married, his sister, Princess Astrid,  stepped in as first lady of the country for her grandfather and then for her father. She wore the emeralds on various occasions, such as the Danish State Visit to Norway, a State Visit from Sweden, a State Visit to Denmark, and the Thai State Visit to Norway.

Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty ImagesEmbed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images

In 1968, Crown Prince Harald married Sonja Haraldsen, after a long wait and direct confront with his father the King, who vehemently opposed to the fact of his son and heir marrying a commoner. Soon after their marriage, Crown Princess Sonja becomes the sole wearer of the piece, as the first lady of Norway. Thus reinforcing the idea of this being the family’s best and grandest parure, reserved for the use of the highest-ranking lady in the country. Queen Sonja has been wearing the Emerald Parure extensively. There is no doubt that it is her favourite choice. She has worn it for a number of important occasions, including state visits from/to other monarchies, such as a Swedish State Visit to Norway, a British State Visit to Norway, a Spanish State Visit to Norway, a Norwegian State Visit to Denmark and a Norwegian Official Visit to Britain.

Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty ImagesEmbed from Getty Images

 The Queen also selected it for the three most important Scandinavian Royal Weddings of a generation: the Wedding of Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, the Wedding of Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, and the Wedding of Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden.

Embed from Getty ImagesEmbed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images

The Emerald Parure was also worn during various family celebrations, such as Prince Haakon’s Confirmation in 1988, Crown Prince Haakon’s 18th Birthday in 1991, Crown Prince Harald’s 40th Birthday, Crown Prince Harald’s 50th Birthday, and King Harald and Queen Sonja’s 80th Birthday Banquet. The Tiara and Parure were last seen at the annual Stortingsmiddag – Gala Dinner for Members of the Norwegian Parliament in 2017, but there is no doubt we will continue to see this magnificent Heirloom Parure for years to come!

9-Prong Tiara | Star and Pearl Tiara

This article written by assistant editor, David Rato, who runs the Spanish Royal Jewels account on Instagram!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s