Today marks the 30th Anniversary of the Death of Princess Margaret of Denmark and Bourbon-Parma, who passed on this day in 1992. King Christian IX’s last surviving granddaughter, who was related to almost all European royals both by birth and marriage, and the mother of Queen Anne of Romania, the ‘Smiling Princess’ was generous and beloved but notoriously impoverished, so to mark the occasion, we are featuring her Pearl Earrings!
Given by Empress Maria Feodorovna of Russia to her sister-in-law, Princess Marie of Denmark, née Orleans, this pair of earrings, of quite common design, features two splendid pear-shaped pearls suspended by diamonds and two round pearls. Unfortunately, no photos of the eccentric Princess Marie wearing the Pearl Drop Earrings were found and in fact, the Princess was never seen wearing earrings as she never had her ears pierced. They were likely inherited by Princess Margaret on the early death of her mother, when the Princess was only 14 years old.
Princess Rene of Bourbon-Parma, as she became known after her marriage in 1921, was a frequent attendee on Scandinavian royal events, due to her family relations. The Princess wore her mother’s Pearl Drop Earrings for the Wedding of Princess Astrid of Sweden to Crown Prince Leopold of Belgium in 1926, for the Wedding of then Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and Princess Ingrid of Sweden in 1935, for King Christian X Silver Jubilee in 1937 and the Wedding of Princess Eugenie of Greece and Prince Radziwill in 1938. For some of those occasions, the Bourbon-Parma/Lobkowicz Tiara was loaned to Princess Margaret by her sister-in-law, Princess Madeleine de Bourbon-Busset.
As Princess Margaret had a relatively small jewellery collection, and after having to sell some of her major pieces due to financial constraints, the Pearl Earrings were very frequently used. They feature on several of the Princess’ family pictures, with her husband, Prince Rene, her children, Jacques, Anne, Michel and Andre, and her cousin and sister-in-law, Princess Margaretha of Sweden and Denmark.
They were also used by the Princess when she was photographed for a publicity campaign of the famous Pond’s Cream. For that occasion, she paired her Earrings with some loaned tiaras, including the Bourbon-Parma Chaumet Tiara and an impressive and mysterious Diamond Fringe.
The earrings were also part of the Princess’ black attire for a famous yet tense audience with Pope Pius XII. Accompanied by Queen Mother Helen of Romania, Princess Margaret seeked the necessary papal dispensation for the marriage of her daughter Anne, brought up in the Roman Catholic faith, with King Michael of Romania, a member of the Romanian Orthodox Church. This meeting proved to be unfruitful. However, the couple ended up marrying in Orthodox ceremony in Athens in 1948, which Princess Anne’s family was forbidden to attend by the head of the Bourbon Parma family.
Princess Margaret wore her Pearl Drop Earrings to various royal events throughout the 1950s, namely the Wedding of her son, Prince Michel, to Princess Yolande de Broglie in 1951, the Wedding of Princess Ragnhild of Norway in 1953, a Banquet during Queen Juliana’s State Visit to Denmark on that same year, as well as for various galas during Queen Elisabeth II’s State Visit to Denmark in 1957. For those occasions, they were combined with Princess Marie’s Loop Tiara, on loan from her sister-in-law.
Princess Margaret kept attending many royal events during the 1960s, including the marriage celebrations of a younger generation of royal cousins. As her jewellery collection was still very modest, she kept loaning Tiaras from relatives. Thus, she wore her Pearl Earrings for most of those events, notably one of the Pre-Wedding Balls of Prince Juan Carlos of Spain and Princess Sofia of Greece in 1962 as well as the Catholic and Orthodox celebrations the day after, the Wedding of King Constantine of Greece and Princess Anne Marie of Denmark in 1964, the Wedding of Princess Tatiana Radziwill in 1966, the Wedding of the now-Queen Margrethe II of Denmark in 1967, and King Frederik IX of Denmark’s 70th Birthday in 1969.
The Pearl Drop Earrings were also borrowed by the Princess’ daughter, Queen Anne of Romania for some occasions. They were paired with a mystery tiara, possibly the Schaumburg-Lippe Sapphire Tiara, and Princess Viggo’s Sapphire Suite for the Wedding Ball of Princess Caroline of Monaco and Philippe Junot in 1978. It seems that, at a later date, the Earrings were given by Princess Margaret to her daughter, Queen Anne, but they ended up being sold at Sotheby’s New York in 1986, together with other heirloom jewels, including a pair of Cartier Evening watches from the collection of Queen Marie of Romania. Their current location is unknown.
This article was written by assistant editor, David Rato, who runs the Spanish Royal Jewels account on Instagram!