Queen Margherita’s Musy Tiara

Today marks the 170th Anniversary of the Birth of Queen Margherita of Italy, who was born on this day in 1851! The Savoy Princess who married her cousin and became the first Queen of a unified Italy, Queen Margherita had a spectacular Jewellery Collection and thus today we are featuring one of her most iconic pieces: The Musy Tiara! 

[Pearl and Diamond Tiara| Diamond Wreath Tiara]

But first, lets learn about Queen Margherita! The daughter of Prince Ferdinand of Savoy, Duke of Genoa and Princess Elisabeth of Saxony, Princess Margherita received an advanced education and was described as sensitive, proud and with a strong force of will without being hard, as well as having the ability to be charming when she chose to. In 1868, she married her first cousin, Umberto, Prince of Piedmont, son of King Victor Emmanuel II of Italy, the first King of unified Italy. The couple had only one son, King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy, becoming the King and Queen of Italy in 1878. Despite the King’s unpopularity, Queen Margherita was a very popular figure and in 1889, the Margherita pizza, whose red tomatoes, green basil, and white cheese represented the Italian flag, was named after her. After King Umberto’s assassination in 1900, she continued to be active in political and social affairs up to her death in 1926. Queen Margherita was the third Queen Mother, after Queen Olga of Greece and Queen Lovisa of Denmark, to have been born in 1851 and die in 1926.

Created form a few pieces of existing jewellery sent by Queen Margherita to the jeweller Musy, the Tiara features buttons of pearls in an elaborate scrolled diamond frame that are set en tremblant. The buttons can be replaced with diamond shells or large collet diamonds, worn with or without the arches, or use just the arches as a bandeau, with over a dozen possible configurations making this one of the most flexible Tiaras in any collection.

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Queen Margherita commissioned the Musy Tiara in 1904 to mark the birth of her grandson, Crown Prince Umberto, and first wore the Tiara at his christening. Known as the ‘Queen of Pearls’ for the dozens of pearl necklaces she always wore, Queen Margherita also wore the Tiara for a series of portrait and a painting by Vittorio Matteo Corcos in 1905.

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After Queen Margherita’s death in 1926, the Tiara was inherited by her beloved grandson, Crown Prince Umberto, who gave it as a gift to his bride, Princess Marie José of Belgium, who first wore the Musy Tiara for the Wedding in the Cappella Paolina (Pauline Chapel) of the Palazzo del Quirinal followed by an Audience with Pope Pius XI at the Vatican.

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Crown Princess Marie Jose wore the Tiara in many configurations in the 1930s, for a variety of notable events, like the Christening of the Prince of Naples in 1937, the Coronation of Pope Pius XII in 1939, and a Gala Performance at the Florence Opera House in 1939. As she never got a chance to wear the historic Jewels reserved for Queens during her short tenure as a reigning Queen Consort, the Musy Tiara remained Queen Marie Jose’s primary Tiara for almost every Gala event throughout her long life.

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After the Italian Monarchy was abolished in 1946 and the Royal Family exiled, Queen Marie Jose continued wearing Queen Margherita’s Musy Tiara, with notable appearences at the two Wedding Balls of Prince Alexander of Yugoslavia and Princess Maria Pia of Savoy in 1955, the Wedding Ball of King Baudouin and Doña Fabiola de Mora y Aragón at the Royal Palace of Brussles in 1960, one of the Wedding Balls of Prince Juan Carlos of Spain and Princess Sophia of Greece in 1962 and the Wedding Ball of King Constantine II of Greece and Princess Anne Marie of Denmark in 1964, following which Queen Marie Jose attended relatively few Gala events and was not publicly pictured in a Tiara from the late 1960s to the time of her death in 2001.

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By the 1980s, Queen Marie Jose had given Queen Margherita’s Musy Tiara to her daughter-in-law, the Princess of Naples, who has notably worn it at the Wedding Ball of Duke Friedrich of Württemberg and Princess Marie of Wied in 1993 and the Wedding of Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark in 2004. The Musy Tiara has also been photographed and exhibited a handful of times in recent years and there is no doubt it will continue to be worn for generations to come, hopefully by the Princess of Venice, and her daughter, Princess Vittoria Chiara, who will one day succeed as the Head of the House of Savoy!

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