Olympic Gala in Naples, 1960

A few days ago, we featured Royals at a Gala Celebration during the 1936 Olympics, and as the 2020 Tokyo Olympics wind down, we are wearing a spectacular Ball held during the Rome Olympics. In 1960, Italy was the country responsible for the organization of the XVII Olympic Games. Although the city of Rome was the centre of everything, some sports events took place in other Italian cities. The beautiful bay of Naples hosted several, namely sailing and yachting.

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On the occasion of the sailing regattas, Duke Francesco and Duchess Elena di Serra di Cassano held at their Napolitan Palazzo a magnificent ball, that went down in history as the Ballo dei Re or the Serra Ball. On September 3rd, more than a thousand guests, including kings and queens, princes and princesses of the most important European dynasties, heads of state, personalities of fashion and international socialites participated in this glittering event. In the 1960s, Italy was experiencing a rebirth, those were the years of the dolce vita. The country was in a period of economic boom and social development, people were rediscovering the pleasures of life after the dark period that WW2 brought.

Among the most high-profile attendees were King Paul of Greece, his wife, Queen Frederica, their daughters, Princesses Sophia and Irene, and their son, Crown Prince Constantine. In fact, the Diadokos would win his own Olympic gold medal in sailing a few days later. Queen Frederica was wearing the necklace and earrings from the Greek Ruby Parure with Queen Sophie’s Ruby Brooch. Princess Sophia borrowed her mother’s Pearl and Diamond Necklace Tiara and Princess Irene was wearing her Pendant suspended from a pearl rope.

Princess Beatrix and Princess Irene of the Netherlands were also invited. The then Dutch Crown Princess was wearing some of the family’s historic pearl jewels, and her younger sister was wearing Queen Wilhelmina’s Diamond Trellis Necklace in its sapphire version. In attendance were three of the four sisters of King Carl XVI Gustaf, the so-called “Haga Princesses”. Princess Margaretha, Princess Birgitta and Princess Desiree were all wearing pearl necklaces, earrings and golden bracelets.

The Count of Barcelona and Prince Juan Carlos were also in Naples for the regattas. Their cousin, Princess Anne, Dowager Duchess of Aosta, was there too, wearing her Ruby Suite. She was accompanied by her youngest daughter, Princess Maria Cristina. Princess Josephine-Charlotte of Luxembourg was wearing the Congo Diamond Necklace Tiara, her Diamond Earrings and a pair of Diamond Clip Brooches.

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Other royal attendees included the Aga Khan IV, Mohammed V of Morocco, the Maharaja and Maharani of Jaipur, the Maharani of Baroda, the Prince of Hesse, Prince Giovanni of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, Prince Alvaro of Orléans Borbon as well as various Italian princes and nobles from Houses Colonna, Orsini, Borghese, Ruspoli, Torlonia, Barberini, Pallavicino, Sforza and Drago. The event was also attended by the famous singer Maria Callas as well as Elsa Maxwell, Aristotle Onassis , Avery Brundage, Paul Louis Weiller and Gloria Schiff.

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Prince Rainier of Monaco and Princess Grace were invited to the ball (as they were in the city for the regatta) but they preferred not to attend. The invitation’s denial was justified due to the recent death of Princess Grace’s father. However, it seems that this decision was taken following a statement made by Queen Federica, who openly opposed the presence of Grace Kelly saying

I do not want to meet with an actress who is playing the role of a queen”.

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


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8 thoughts on “Olympic Gala in Naples, 1960

  1. What a treat! I had not seen any of these photos previously. Such a shame it was not also a white-tie event with tiaras like the 1936 Olympic Gala in Berlin (another enjoyable post), but even so there were some really magnificent jewels on display! From the photos I can see that one lady did actually wear a tiara, but I am not able to identify her. Is it known who she is and what tiara she wore? A great post. Thank you for posting.

    1. Such a lovely event, isn’t it? I believe that lady is an Italian Aristocrat but I’m not sure. It was so nice that all those royals got together!

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