Hesse Medieval Emerald Tiara

Today marks the 85th Anniversary of the Death of the Hesse Royal Family, who died in a tragic plane crash enroute to London for a family Wedding! The crash killed not only the Grand Duke Georg Donatus of Hesse-Darmstadt, his wife, Princess Cecilie, Grand Duchess of Hesse, and their sons, Prince Ludwig, and Prince Alexander, but also his mother, Dowager Grand Duchess Eleanor, but the family heirlooms they were taking to London survived the crash in a strongbox, so thus we are featuring a jewel worn by both Grand Duchess Eleanor and Princess Cecilie; The Hesse Medieval Emerald Tiara!

Hesse Strawberry Leaf Tiara | Hesse Star Tiara | Hesse Turquoise and Moonstone Tiara | Hesse Medieval Emerald Tiara

In 1905, the Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine commissioned a splendid new Parure of Emeralds and Diamond from the Court Jeweller Koch/Kreuter Hanau around the time of his second wedding to Princess Eleonore of Solms-Hohensolms-Lich. The Parure was composed of a striking Diamond and Emerald Tiara in the medieval style, set with large cabochon emeralds, as well as a choker with emerald pendants, and a geometric brooch with two massive emeralds. Emeralds could also be added into a versatile set of diamond earrings, and the set also included an eleven-row bracelet with chains. The origin of the large emeralds is unknown, but since they were not the emeralds of the Grand Duke’s mother, Princess Alice, Grand Duchess of Hesse, it is likely that they were wedding gifts, possibly even from his sister, Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia.  

Grand Duchess Eleonore most notably wore the Emerald Parure for a series of portraits taken at the Thiele Studio in Darmstadt in 1906. The Tiara was composed of detachable elements, and thus several of the emeralds were also worn by on a medieval costume for a costume Ball at Burg Dankwarderode in 1911. 

Following the fall of the German Monarchies, the Grand Ducal Family retained their personal properties and the entirety of their jewellery collection. In the 1930s, the Gothic Emerald Parure was worn by the then Hereditary Grand Duchess Cecilie for a series of portraits.

In 1937, the Hereditary Grand Duke and Hereditary Grand Duchess were in London for the Coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, with the Medieval Emerald Tiara being worn on the Coronation day itself. 

Princess Cecilie had also taken the Hesse Strawberry Leaf Tiara and the Hesse Star Tiara to London for the Coronation and posed in them and the Gothic Emerald Tiara for a series of portraits taken around that time, along with her two sons. 

Later that year, only a month after death of Grand Duke Ernest, the family were returning to London for the wedding of Prince Louis of Hesse to the Hon. Margaret Geddes, when the heavily pregnant Grand Duchess Cecilie likely went into labour during the flight, leading the plane to crash into a factory chimney while trying to land in dense fog in Belgium. The Grand Duke and Grand Duchess, along with Grand Duchess Eleonore, their two sons, and members of their suite all died. It is unknown if the Medieval Emerald Tiara was taken on the journey but the Strawberry Leaf Tiara, Turquoise and Moonstone Tiara and other family jewels survived in a strongbox.

While Prince Louis became the next Head of the House of Hesse and by Rhine, taking the title of the Prince of Hesse and by Rhine, and his wife, Princess Margaret, who was the last member of the House of Hesse and by Rhine, was very close to the British Royal Family, (including the Duke of Edinburgh, brother of the Grand Duchess Cecilie) notably attending the Queen’s Coronation and the Queen’s 60th Birthday Ball at Buckingham Palace in 1986, it does not appear that the Medieval Emerald Tiara was worn after 1937. The childless couple adopted his distant cousin, Prince Moritz, the Landgrave of Hesse, and if the Tiara still survives, it likely belongs to the “Hessische Hausstiftung”, the Foundation of the House of Hesse, which manages the family assets, including the Art, Castles, and Jewels still owned by the family, but unlike the other family jewels, has neither been worn nor exhibited. 

Hesse Strawberry Leaf Tiara | Hesse Star Tiara | Hesse Turquoise and Moonstone Tiara | Hesse Medieval Emerald Tiara


Royal Magazin

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