Queen Letizia of the Spain will be celebrating her 50th Birthday next week! Having access to the Spanish Jewellery collection, Queen Letizia has worn many pieces from sizeable personal collection of her mother-in-law, Queen Sofia, as well as a variety of heirloom jewels, so to mark her birthday, in a staggered coverage, we are featuring the most prominent of those Jewels, beginning with Queen Victoria Eugenie’s Diamond Bracelet!
Amongst the magnificent jewels that King Alfonso XIII Spain commissioned for the corbeille de mariage of his wife-to-be, Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg , was a beautiful coronita, ie. small crown, of diamonds, rubies and emeralds. There is an obvious resemblance to Queen Victoria’s Diamond Crown, probably a little detail the groom had towards the bride’s family heritage.
The press describes the petite crown as having “seven and a half centimeters in diameter at the base and twelve centimeters from end to end of the fleurons. The base is set with four rectangular emeralds, four oval rubies, and eight diamond elements. On the upper edge, eight brilliants alternate with eight strawberry leaves, from which the corresponding diadems rose, terminating in the world globe with cross, all studded with diamonds”. Queen Ena debuted her Diamond Crown at a reception held at the Royal Palace of Madrid after the couple’s religious celebrations, which had been marred by a bomb narrowly missing the couple’s carriage.
Queen Victoria Eugenie wore this crown often during her 25-year tenure as Queen of Spain. She was officially portrayed with this ornament several times and always wore it on top of her white mantilla for the Opening of Parliament. When the Bourbons went into exile in 1931, the Queen took her splendid jewellery collection with her to her new home in Switzerland. As the Countess of Barcelona notes in her memoirs:
I have been asked about what happened to that closed royal crown that the Queen wore in the superb portrait that Sotomayor painted of her, and that is at the Royal Palace. When she was in Switzerland, she thought that she was never going to wear it again and had it disassembled. She commissioned something new for herself and gave part of the stones to her daughters”.
With some of the stones, Queen Ena commissioned Bulgari to create a pair of diamond bracelets representing two twisted ribbons – las pulseras gemelas. Those Bracelets can be often spotted on the Queen’s arms on photographs from the many gala events she has attended in the 50s and 60s.
Queen Victoria Eugenie also paired the Twin Diamond Bracelets with some of her favourite jewels, such as the Cartier Pearl Tiara, her godmother’s Emeralds or the Diamond Stomacher, while sitting for various of her legendary portraits. In April 1969, the elderly Queen took her last breath. Her last wishes established that these Diamond Bracelets (with several other pieces) should be given to her son, Don Juan, Count of Barcelona, with the intention that they must stay in in the possession of the head of the Borbon Dynasty, becoming part of a collection of Jewels to be passed on from titular to titular- las “Joyas de Pasar”. Until now, no evidence of Doña Maria de las Mercedes, the Countess of Barcelona wearing the Twin Diamond Bracelets has been found.
In accordance with Queen Ena’s wishes, the next wearer of Las Gemelas was Queen Sofia, who received the lot of “Joyas de Pasar” some time after the Proclamation of Don Juan Carlos as King of Spain in 1975, with the first appearance coming during the Swedish State Visit to Spain in 1983.
For more than 30 years, Queen Sofia was the sole wearer of the splendid pair of Diamond Twin Bracelets. They were worn for a plethora of events, including State Visits, such as the Swedish State Visit to Spain in 1983 , the Spanish State Visit to Nepal in 1986 or the British State Visit to Spain in 1988, as well as other glittering events, like King Bhumibol of Thailand’s Diamond Jubilee Banquet in 2006.
Usually, Queen Sofia opted to wear both Diamond Bracelets at the same time, just like Queen Ena did. Nonetheless, there were occasions when she opted to wear only one of them, such as for the Wedding of Prince Felipe and Letizia Ortiz in 2004.
When King Juan Carlos abdicated in 2014, the Twin Bracelets, and the rest of the lot of Joyas de Pasar lot, was handed over to the new King and Queen, with Queen Sofia wearing the whole lot one last time for a Mexican State Visit just weeks before the Abdication.
Queen Letizia first wore Las Gemelas in 2017 for a banquet during the Argentinian State Visit to Spain. Since then, we have seen her wearing the bracelets numerous times and they have become a favourite for State Banquets, including for the Spanish State Visit to Japan, the Spanish State Visit to Britain, the Chinese State Visit to Spain in 2018 or the Spanish State Visit to Sweden in 2021.
The Queen has also worn Queen Victoria Eugenie’s Bracelets during some less formal events like prize ceremonies or concerts, such as the 2019 Opening of the season at the Teatro Real, the Princess of Asturias Awards in 2021 or a Dinner for the participants of the 2022 Madrid Nato Summit.
Unlike her predecessors, Queen Letizia has often opted to wear both Diamond Bracelets on the same arm, namely during King Willem Alexander’s 50th Birthday in 2017 and Emperor Naruhito’s Enthronement Banquet in 2019 (when she entered wearing one on each arm and change afterwards). It surely makes the pieces much more prominent. However, this is not free of criticism as some feel it may be damaging the stones. There is no doubt we’ll continue to see Queen Victoria Eugenie’s Diamond Bracelets for years to come!
Spanish Fleur-de-Lys Tiara | Prussian Diamond Tiara | Spanish Floral Tiara | Cartier Pearl Tiara | Queen Maria Christina’s Loop Tiara | Mellerio Shell Tiara | The Joyas de Pasar | Queen Victoria Eugenie’s Diamond Earrings | Queen Victoria Eugenie’s Diamond Bracelets | Spanish Royal Tiaras | Spanish Royal Jewels
This article was written by assistant editor, David Rato, who runs the Spanish Royal Jewels account on Instagram!