Happy Birthday to Hereditary Princess Sophie of Liechtenstein, who turns 55 today! The Bavarian Duchess married to there Heir and Regent of the small Alpine Principality, the Hereditary Princess has worn some spectacular Heirloom Jewels, the highlight of which is the splendid Habsburg Fringe Tiara!
Featuring diamonds in a fringe design, this Tiara shares the motif of Tiaras in royal collections around the world, originally inspired by the Kokoshniks at the Russian Royal Court. Examples can be found in the British, Swedish, Danish, Thai, Monaco, Lesotho and the Greek Royal Collections.
The Habsburg Fringe was made by Köchert around 1890 for Archduchess Maria Theresa of Austria (née Infanta of Portugal), the daughter of King Miguel I of Portugal who was one of the sister-in-laws of Emperor Franz Joseph I, and one of the leading Ladies of the Imperial Court after the retirement and later assassination of Empress Elisabeth of Austria. The Tiara was most notably worn at the wedding of her daughter, Archduchess Elisabeth, to Prince Alois of Liechtenstein in 1903 and also to the Wedding of her step-grandson, the later Emperor Karl, to her niece, Princess Zita of Bourbon-Parma, in 1911. Archduchess Maria Theresa retained the Habsburg Fringe Tiara after the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, with an embarrassing episode when she tried to sell a necklace from Napoleon in America the late 1920s but it was eventually returned, with the both pieces remaining in her collection until the time of her death in 1944.
The Habsburg Fringe Tiara was inherited by the aforementioned Archduchess Elisabeth, who was the mother of Prince Franz Joseph II, whose wife, Princess Gina, began wearing the Fringe Tiara, though the Napoleon Necklace was sold in the late 1940s. Notable appearances include the Wedding Ball of Prince Juan Carlos of Spain and Princess Sophia of Greece in 1962, the Wedding Ball of King Constantine II of Greece and Princess Anne Marie of Denmark in 1964, the Wedding Ball of Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein and Countess Marie Kinsky von Wchinitz und Tettau in 1967.
In 1967, the Habsburg Fringe Tiara was worn by Countess Marie Kinsky at her Wedding to then Hereditary Prince Hans Adam, and Isabelle de l’Arbre de Malander when she married Prince Philipp, the younger son of Prince Franz Joseph and Princess Gina, in 1971.
Princess Gina continued to wear the Habsburg Fringe Tiara through the 1970s, including at the Shah of Iran and Empress Farah’s spectacular Banquet celebrating the 2500th Anniversary of the Persian Empire at Persepolis in 1971 as well as at the Wedding Ball of Princess Marie Antoinette von Fürstenberg and Count Johannes of Schoenborn Wiesentheid in 1977.
These days, the Habsburg Fringe Tiara is mainly worn by Hereditary Princess Sophie, who usually represents the Princely Family at Foreign Royal Events. Notable appearances of the Tiara include the Wedding of Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden in 2010, the Wedding Ball of Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene of Monaco in 2011 and Queen Beatrix’s Abdication Dinner in 2013.
More recently, Hereditary Princess Sophie has worn the Habsburg Fringe for King Carl XVI Gustaf’s 70th Birthday Banquet in 2016, Crown Prince Frederik’s 50th Birthday Gala Dinner at Christiansborg Palace in 2018, and the Wedding Ball of her niece, Duchess Sophie of Württemberg, in 2018.
In 2021, Princess Maria-Anunciata of Liechtenstein wore the Habsburg Fringe Tiara at her Wedding to Emanuele Musini at the Kirche Unsere Liebe Frau zu den Schotten (Schottenkirche) in Vienna. There is no doubt we will continue to see the Fringe Tiara being worn for years to come!