Empress Zita’s Jet Tiara

Today marks the 130th Anniversary of the Birth of Empress Zita of Austria, who was born on this day in 1892! The Bourbon-Parma Princess who became the last Empress of Austria and then a tragic widow for over seven decades in exile, Empress Zita once possessed a spectacular jewellery collection, but her most worn piece was this striking Jet Tiara!

Composed of jet pieces and beads set in a Belle Epoque design, this tiara is of unknown provenance but is likely a piece of mourning jewellery, likely dating from the time of the suicide of Crown Prince Rudolf in 1889. Empress Zita was first portrayed wearing the piece for the Wedding of her youngest daughter, Archduchess Elisabeth of Austria, and Prince Heinrich of Liechtenstein at the Château de Lignières in 1949.

The following year, Empress Zita wore the Jet Tiara Wedding of her son, Archduke Carl Ludwig of Austria, and Princess Yolande of Ligne at the Château de Beloeil in 1950.

The Jet Tiara was also worn for the Wedding of Archduke Otto von Habsburg, the Heir, and Princess Regina of Saxe-Mainingen in Nancy in 1951 (which was also Empress Zita’s 59th Birthday).

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In 195, Empress Zita wore the Tiara for the wedding of her son, Archduke Felix, to Princess Anna Eugenie d’Arenberg at Beaulieu-sur-Mer in 1952.

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One of the last notable appearences of the Jet Tiara came in 1953, when Empress Zita wore it for the Wedding Ball of her son, Archduke Robert of Austria, and Princess Margherita of Savoy-Aosta in 1953, also likely wearing it for the Wedding of Archduke Robert and Princess Margherita the following day. The eventual fate of the Tiara is unknown, as it was not publicly worn and pictured after the 1950s, and if it still remains today, it is unlikely it will be worn due to its symbolism tied to Empress Zita’s widowhood.


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