Queen Maria of Yugoslavia’s Cartier Diamond Eagle

Today marks the Anniversary of the Death of Queen Maria of Yugoslavia, who died on this day in 1961! The Romanian Princess who married the first Yugoslavia King that was assassinated and later became the mother of the last King of Yugoslavia before spending decades in exile in the United Kingdom, Queen Maria lived a fascinating life, and possessed an intriguing jewellery collection, which included this Cartier Diamond Eagle!

Emerald Tiara | Fringe Tiara | Gold Tiara | Cartier Diamond Eagle

When Princess Maria of Romania married King Alexander of Yugoslavia in 1922, she received Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna’s Emerald Tiara and Parure as a wedding gift from her husband, and soon afterwards the King gave her this spectacular double-headed Diamond Eagle made by Cartier. The double-headed eagle is one of the most important Serbian symbols and the Order of the White Eagle was one of the most important Yugoslavian Orders. 

Queen Maria notably wore her Cartier Diamond Eagle suspended from a Diamond Chain she usually wore to extend her Emerald Necklaces, for the Wedding of her younger sister, Princess Ileana of Romania, to Archduke Anton of Austria in 1931.

Following King Alexander’s assassination, Queen Maria retreated to England and Yugoslavia was represented by Prince Regent Paul and Princess Olga of Yugoslavia. Despite the contentious relationship between the two women, Queen Maria seems to have loaned her Cartier Diamond Eagle to Princess Olga for a Gala at the Royal Albert Hall in London in 1937, following the Coronation of King George VI, at which they were pictured with Queen Maria’s nephew, King Michael of Romania.

By the 1960s, Queen Maria had been in exile for a few decades and her impressive personal fortune had dwindled. As personal property, the  Cartier Diamond Eagle was not among the jewels, like Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna’s Emerald Tiara and Parure, that were reluctantly handed over to her daughter-in-law, Queen Alexandra, and in 1960, Queen Maria wore the Diamond Eagle with Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna’s Fringe Tiara for a series of promotional portraits before both jewels were auctioned. 

The Auction Notes for the Diamond Eagle stated:

An important Diamond Corsage Ornament in the form of a double-headed eagle, pavé-set with cushion-shaped diamonds and with a fringe of larger stones pendent below. by Cartier

This Ornament was given to Her Majesty by her late hushand King Alexander, and was worn by her on all State occasions.

The Cartier Diamond Eagle was sold for 2,450 to ‘Lublines’ at Sotheby’s on July 21st, 1960, and hasn’t been publicly seen since. Its current whereabouts are unknown, but an almost identical Diamond Eagle Brooch from the family of Queen Maria’s sister, Princess Ileana, was auctioned at Sotheby’s in 2021.

Emerald Tiara | Fringe Tiara | Gold Tiara | Cartier Diamond Eagle


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