Today marks the 70th Anniversary of the Death of Grand Duchess Maria Kirillovna of Russia, Princess of Leiningen, who died on this day in 1951! The elder daughter of Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich of Russia and Princess Victoria Melita of Saxe-Coburg und Gotha, Grand Duchess Maria Kirillovna was the sister of Grand Duke Vladimir and Grand Duchess Kira, Princess of Prussia, growing up in exile in France and Germany before she married the 6th Prince of Leiningen in 1925. The Prince and Princess of Leiningen had seven children, including Prince Karl of Leiningen and Princess Margarita of Hohenzollern, and remained married until his death in a Russian Concentration Camp in 1946, with the Grand Duchess passing away in 1951. To mark the anniversary, we are featuring Grand Duchess Maria Kirillovna’s spectacular Diamond Necklace!
Of unknown provenance, a Tiara of ‘swags, fringes and garlands with bows and lovers’ knots with eleven spikes’, was likely a wedding gift to Princess Victoria Melita of Saxe-Coburg und Gotha when she married Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich of Russia in 1905, a few years after her divorce from the Grand Duke of Hesse. The Grand Duchess Victoria Feodorovna wore the Tiara for an official portrait taken a few years before the fall of the Russian Monarchy, when she was forced to sell most of her jewels, including her Greek Key Tiara and Cartier Sapphire Necklace, but it seems she retained at least the upper portion of the tiara, which was turned into a necklace.
In 1925, the diamond necklace was given to her eldest daughter, Grand Duchess Maria Kirillovna, when she married the 6th Prince of Leiningen, wearing the necklace for the first time on her Wedding Day, paired with large diamond stars set on a Kokoshnik.
A few years later, in the 1930s, Grand Duchess Maria Kirillovna paired the diamond necklace with a diamond tiara, likely a Leiningen Family Heirloom, for a series of official portraits.
The current location of this illustrious heirloom is unknown, as none of the current Princesses of Leiningen have been pictured in the piece, but immediately Grand Duchess Maria Kirillovna and her children were in financial difficulty, and the necklace may have been sold at that time. UPDATE: The Diamond Necklace remains with the Leiningen Royal Family, and was worn by Fürstin Eilika zu Leiningen for a Gala in 1997, which makes it, along with the Greek Key Tiara and Princess Victoria Melita’s English Rose Brooch, one of the last surviving heirlooms from her legendary collection, the post prominent one still with her descendents.