Today marks the 55th Anniversary of the Death of Queen Augusta Victoria of Portugal, who died on this day in 1966! The eldest daughter of the Hohenzollern Furst and a Bourbon-Two Sicilies Princess who became the de jure Queen of Portugal, after marrying its last sovereign (and her second cousin), King Manuel II. The King and Queen lived a relatively calm and serene married life in exile, in Britain. They were unable to produce an heir to the Portuguese throne. In 1939, seven years after Manuel’s death, Augusta married Count Robert Douglas. To mark the day, we are taking a look at Queen Augusta Victoria’s Tiara Collection!
On her wedding day, securing her veil, Queen Augusta Victoria wore a sort of bridal crown, featuring four large fleur-de-lys intercepted by four smaller shamrocks, set on an elaborate base. Its design is reminiscent of several other pieces also owned by German nobility, namely two crowns owned by the Hohenzollern family: the Hohenzollern Clover Coronet and the Prussian Clover Coronet. According to several press reports of that time, this piece was a wedding gift from the groom, King Manuel II. It consists of 2000 diamonds and emeralds, set in platinum.
Lily of the Valley Tiara
This tiara was given as a wedding gift to Queen Augusta Victoria by the “Liga Monachica do Rio de Janeiro”, i.e. the Portuguese monarchists living in Brazil. The artistic piece, representing lilies of the valley or muguets, is made of platinum and is set with the best Brazilian diamonds. It was created in the workshops of the jeweller Luiz Rezende, one of the oldest and best jewellers in Brazil by that time.
It’s design shares many similarities with a piece created by Boucheron somewhere between the 1870s and 1880s, which was probably the source of inspiration for the creation of this tiara. The Portuguese Queen would later supplement the base with an extra row of large brilliant cut diamonds, as shown in the pictures.
Order of Christ Tiara
On the occasion of her wedding, the Queen also received a large diamond and ruby tiara. This piece was created by Leitão e Irmão, the Portuguese Crown Jewellers. Its design echoes many symbols of Portugal’s “golden era”, namely the cross of the Military Order of Christ, that was present in the sails of the boats used by the Portuguese during the discoveries, as well as ropes and knots, reminiscent of the Manuelino decorative style.
The tiara was quite flexible, as it could be used in a more closed way, as a coronet, or opened, as a bandeau. Queen Augusta Victoria famously wore this piece in a 1915 portrait made by Philip de László, pairing it with a diamond and ruby choker made by Cartier, a pair of large ruby earrings and pearl ropes.
Unfortunately, there are very few pictures and portraits of the Queen, making it difficult to identify the extent of her jewellery collection, that was probably larger than this. At the present, nothing is known about the fate of Queen Augusta Victoria’s jewellery collection. Either the pieces were sold at some point by her descents (nephews and nieces) or are still kept by the family.
This article was written by assistant editor, David Rato, who runs the Spanish Royal Jewels account on Instagram!