Happy Birthday to Princess Astrid of Norway, who turns 91 today! The middle child and second daughter of King Olav V of Norway and Princess Martha of Sweden, elder sister of King Harald, who served as ‘First Lady’ for her grandfather and father, the Princess has an illustrious jewellery collection, which includes this striking Ruby Aigrette Tiara!
When Princess Maud of Wales married Prince Charles of Denmark in 1896, she received a plethora of glittering jewels, including her Pearl Tiara, Diamond Tiara, Vifte Tiara, Drapers’ Company Brooch, Pearl Bow Brooch and Diamond Brooch, as well as this ‘Ruby and Diamond Aigrette’ from Lady and Gentlemen Friends (credit to the wonderful Beth for this discovery).
While there are no images of Princess Maud wearing the Ruby Aigrette, she must have worn it for numerous occasions, especially becoming Queen of Norway in 1905, though it is unknown if she also wore the piece with the Diamond Mercury Wings (the subject of a future article). In 1938, Queen Maud brought all her jewels with her to England while she was having an operation, and where she passed away of heart failure. Queen Maud’s jewels remained in England, throughout the Norwegian Royal Family’s exile during WWII, and were only reclaimed during a visit for the Queen’s Coronation in 1953.
The following year, Queen Maud’s daughter-in-law, Crown Princess Martha, passed away and much of the Norwegian Royal Jewellery Collection was then in the possession of Princess Astrid, who served as the First Lady of the Norwegian Court for her grandfather and then her father, The Norwegian Royal Jewels were only divided up following the wedding of then Crown Prince Harald in 1968, when the jewels were split between the now King and his two sisters.
Princess Astrid began wearing the Ruby Aigrette Tiara in the 1970s, the first time it had been publicly photographed, though it was rarely worn into the 1980s and 1990s, almost always with Queen Maud’s Diamond Riviere, a pair of ruby and diamond earrings, and a ruby and diamond pendant from Queen Maud.
As she has gotten older, the Ruby Aigrette Tiara, and the Diamond Wing version, have been more frequently worn over the past decade or so, as Princess Astrid has reserved Queen Alexandra’s Turquoise Circlet and the Vasa Tiara for only the most important occasions. Referred to as the ‘antennas’ by some, Princess Astrid has joked that when she wears the Ruby Aigrette:
one (antenna) receives London and the other Moscow”
Notable appearances include the Stortingsmiddagen at the Royal Palace of Oslo in October, and most recently the Diplomatic Banquet at the Royal Palace of Oslo earlier this week, when the central element was worn upside down, meaning there is more flexibility to the piece. Unlike the Queen Alexandra’s Turquoise Circlet and the Vasa Tiara, the Ruby Aigrette Tiara will not pass to the King upon Princess Astrid’s passing, but will be inherited by her children, though there is no doubt we will continue to see this unique jewel worn for years to come.