Happy Birthday to Princess Maria Cristina of Savoy-Aosta, Princess of the Bourbon-Two Sicilies, who turns 90 today! The illustrious Savoy Princess who married a Prince of the Bourbon-Two Sicilies, Princess Maria Cristina wore some splendid jewels, the highlight of which is her Pearl and Diamond Shell Tiara!
Princess Maria Cristina was the second daughter of Prince Amedeo of Savoy, the Duke of Aosta, son of the Duke of Aosta and Princess Hélène of Orléans, and Princess Anne of Orléans, daughter of the Duke of Guise and Princess Isabelle of Orléans, she was the younger sister of Princess Margherita, Archduchess of Austria-Este. The Duke of Aosta was appointed the Viceroy and as Governor-General of Italian East Africa, also becoming the Commander-in-Chief of all Italian military forces in Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Italian Somaliland, dying in a prisoner-of-war camp in Kenya in 1942. Meanwhile, the Duchess and her two daughter, along with Princess Irene of Greece, Duchess of Aosta were were interned by the Nazis in Austria for almost a year until being liberated in May 1945. Following the abolition of the Italian Monarchy, the Duchess and the two Princesses continued to reside in Italy, and attended Royal Events around Europe through the years. In 1967, Princess Maria Cristina married Prince Casimir of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, son of Prince Gabriel of Bourbon-Two Sicilies and his wife Princess Cecylia Lubomirska, in Jacarezinho, Brazil. The couple had four children; Prince Luis Alfonso, Princess Anna Cecilia, Princess Elena Sofia, and Prince Alexander Henrique.
Featuring three striking Pearl and Diamond Shells in an ornate setting, this Diamond Tiara of unknown provenance first appeared on Princess Maria Cristina in 1958, when it was worn for a Ball at the Royal Palace in Brussels, to celebrate the opening of the International Exhibition.
Two years later, Princess Maria Cristina wore the Pearl and Diamond Shell Tiara for the spectacular Wedding Ball of Duke Carl of Württemberg and Princess Diane of Orléans at Schloss Altshausen in 1960. A few years later, Duke Carl’s sister, Duchess Elisabeth, would become Princess Maria Cristina’s sister-in-law.
Later that year, Princess Maria Cristina wore the Savoy-Aosta Tiara and her mother’s Ruby Necklace for the Wedding Ball of King Baudouin and Doña Fabiola de Mora y Aragón at the Royal Palace of Brussles in 1960.
In 1962, Princess Maria Cristina wore a mystery Emerald Tiara and Parure at the Wedding Ball of Prince Juan Carlos of Spain and Princess Sophia of Greece at the Royal Palace of Athens. While her sister, Princess Margherita, Archduchess of Austria-Este, seems to have inherited the Savoy-Aosta Tiara, the Austria-Este Tiara, the Savoy-Aosta Bandeau Tiara, and the Savoy-Aosta Emerald Necklace, much less is known about the jewels of Princess Maria Cristina.
Sometime later in the 1960s, Princess Maria Cristina was photographed wearing the Pearl and Diamond Shell Tiara in the car on her way to a Ball at the Royal Palace in Brussels.
More recently, the Pearl and Diamond Shell Tiara was worn by Princess Maria Cristina’s daughter, Princess Anna Cecilia of Bourbon-Two Siciles, for her Wedding to Count Rodolphe de Causans in Turin in 2005. Let’s hope we see this splendid heirloom worn again soon!