Today marks the 110th Anniversary of the Birth of Princess Isabelle, Countess of Paris, who was born on this day in 1911! The Orléans-Bragança Princess married Henri, Count of Paris, becoming the “de jure” Queen of the French for most of her life, Madame possessed a splendid collection of jewels, the most prominent of which was the historic Orléans Sapphire Parure, so to mark this Anniversary, we are featuring her Mellerio Sapphire Tiara, also known as the Action Française Tiara!
On the occasion of the marriage of Prince Henri, Count of Paris, and Princess Isabelle of Orléans-Bragança, in 1931, L’Action Française, a monarchist political movement, launched a public subscription with the objective of purchasing a wedding gift for the young princess. The chosen gift was a jewel, a small tiara commissioned to Maison Mellerio. This Art Deco piece is made of sapphires and diamonds mounted in white gold. It is surmounted by three diamond fleur de lys, the symbol of the House of Orléans. Madame would baptize it as “mon diademe de Dauphine”.
The Countess of Paris would wear this tiara very often in her younger years. But after she gained access to the two historical family parures, she preferred to use the grander tiaras, and soon Madame began to loan this piece to her succession of six daughters.
When the Princesses Isabelle, Hélène, Anne, Diane, Claude and Chantal came of age and started attending gala events, they would be frequently seen wearing the Action Française Tiara, namely at the Wedding Ball of Prince Alexander of Yugoslavia and Princess Maria Pia of Savoy in 1955, the Wedding Ball of Archduke Ferdinand of Habsburg and Countess Heléne of Toerring-Jettenbach in 1956, the Wedding Ball of Duke Carl of Wurttemberg and Princess Diane of France in 1960, the Wedding Ball of Prince Juan Carlos of Spain and Princess Sophia of Greece in 1962 and the Wedding Ball of Infanta Pilar of Spain and Luis Gómez-Acebo in 1967.
This piece was also used as a bridal tiara for three brides of the Orléans family. When Princess Héléne of France married Count Evrard of Limburg-Stirum, in 1957, the bride borrowed this tiara from her mother. Many years later, Princess Adelaide of Orléans (the daughter of Prince Michel of Orléans and Béatrice Pasquier de Franclieu), wore her grandmother’s tiara for her wedding to Pierre-Louis Dailly. In 2014, Bernadette de Mentzingen wore this tiara when she married Count Melchior von Schönborn-Buchheim (a grandson of the Count and Countess of Paris).
After the grand Sapphire Parure was sold to the Louvre and the other one sold at auction, the Countess of Paris wore the Mellerio Sapphire Tiara more frequently for gaka events in the 1990s. When Madame died, in 2003, her jewellery collection was divided between her eleven children. Her eldest daughter, the Countess of Schönborn-Buchheim, also named Isabelle, inherited the Action Française Tiara.
This article written by assistant editor, David Rato, who runs the Spanish Royal Jewels account on Instagram!