Today marks the 60th Anniversary of the Death of Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, who passed away on this day in 1962! The young girl who became the first Dutch Regnant Queen and reigned for almost 60 years, becoming a symbol of the resistance during the Second World War, Queen Wilhelmina possessed the entirety of the spectacular collection of the Dutch Royal Family, but today we are featuring one of her oldest Royal Heirlooms: The Dutch Pearl and Diamond Stomacher!
One of the oldest heirlooms of the Dutch Royal Family, the spectacular devant-de-corsage is composed of a diamond open work bow containing five rare pink diamonds, from which three large pear-shaped pearls hang from diamond garlands and a diamond bow. The piece can be worn in various configurations, including just the main bow, with up to the three pearl pendants or even diamond pendants attached from the diamond bow, and also without the central pearl.
The Romanov Pearl and Diamond Stomacher originates from Grand Duchess Catharine Pavlovna of Russia, the Queen of Württemberg, who left the jewel to her daughter, Queen Sophie of The Netherlands, who was married to her first cousin, King Willem III, the son of Queen Catharine’s much despised sister, Grand Duchess Anna Pavlovna, Queen of The Netherlands. Queen Sophie notably wore the Pearl and Diamond Stomacher for a portrait in the 1840s. An identical Stomacher remained with the Württemberg Royal Family.
After Queen Sophie’s death in 1877, her two surviving sons passed away in quick succession, so King Willem III remarried to Princess Emma of Waldeck and Pyrmont and had the future Queen Wilhelmina, who was the next wearer of the Romanov Pearl and Diamond Stomacher, pairing it with the Württemberg Ornate Pearl Tiara for some of her earliest portraits as Queen.
The Romanov Pearl and Diamond Devant-de-Corsage remained a favourite of Queen Wilhelmina throughout her long reign, and was paired with the Dutch Diamond Bandeau for her last official portraits taken before her Abdication in 1948.
Queen Juliana rarely wore the Romanov Pearl and Diamond Stomacher, with notable exceptions being the Dutch State Visit to Britain in 1950 and the Austrian State Visit in 1961, as well a series of portraits taken in 1972, when it was paired with the Dutch Diamond Bandeau. Later, after her abdication, the Stomacher was worn for a French State Visit in the 1980s.
By the 1960s, the Romanov Pearl and Diamond Devant-de-Corsage had become a favourite of Princess Beatrix, who notably wore the Stomacher for her Wedding Ball in 1966, as well as for the Dutch State Visit to Ethiopia in 1969, almost always paired with the Antique Pearl Tiara.
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The Devant-de-Corsage remained a favourite after her Accession to the Dutch Throne in 1980, and was among the jewels regularly worn by Queen Beatrix, though rarely in its full form, instead being worn more regularly as just the central diamond bow, with pearl and even diamond pendants, as was worn for King Carl XVI Gustaf’s Birthday Celebrations in 1996 and in 2006. The most prominent appearance came in 2013, when it was worn for Queen Beatrix’s Abdication Dinner at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
Princess Máxima began wearing the Pink Diamond Bow portion of Devant-de-Corsage soon after her marriage, for the Wedding of Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark in 2004 and also at Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Theresa’s Silver Anniversary Gala in 2006, as well as for a Russian State Banquet and King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s Diamond Jubilee Banquet in 2006.
The full version of the Romanov Pearl and Diamond Stomacher was debuted for a Chinese State Banquet in 2014, and the Pink Diamond Bow portion was again worn during Dutch State Visit to Italy in 2017, the fourth appearance with the pink Valentino gown.
More recently the Romanov Pearl and Diamond Devant-de-Corsage was worn by Queen Máxima with the Antique Pearl Tiara for the Diplomatic Corps Gala Dinner at the Royal Palace of Amsterdam in 2019, and the whole look, minus the central pearl pendant, was worn during the Dutch State Visit to Austria earlier this year. The Bow version was also worn for the Dutch State Visit to India in 2019.
The more recent appearance of the Devant-de-Corsage came last month, when it was worn by Queen Máxima, paired with the Stuart Tiara for the State Banquet hosted by King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia during the Dutch State Visit to Sweden. There is no doubt we will continue to see the spectacular royal heirloom for years to come!