02 January 2014

Margaret of Connaught's Pearls

Crown Princess Margareta of Sweden wearing pearls [1]
Each month on The Court Jeweller, I'm going to present several posts highlighting the jewel collection of an important royal or noble collector. This January, we'll peek into the jewel box of Princess Margaret of Connaught, who was born on January 15. Margaret, who was the daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Connaught, was born a British princess; her paternal grandparents were Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. She became Crown Princess Margareta of Sweden as the first wife of King Gustaf VI Adolf, and her collection was certainly fitting for a woman who should have become a queen.

As a true Edwardian princess, one of Margaret's signature jewelry pieces were pearls, worn on brooches, earrings, rings, and in long strands around her neck. The postcard above shows Margaret wearing a single strand necklace long enough for her to wrap it around her left thumb. She also wears pearl earrings, and she appears to wear a pearl ring on her right hand, possibly the one given to her as a wedding gift by her brother and sister, Prince Arthur and Princess Patricia [2]. Margaret also received other pearl jewels for her wedding in 1905; they included a diamond and pearl brooch from Empress Eugenie, a long necklace of rubies, pearls, and diamonds from the Duchess of Argyll, and a pearl necklace with sapphire drops from Princess Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein. She also received an additional diamond and pearl chain from a Mr. P. Ralli.

Margaret of Connaught on her
wedding day in 1905 [3]
On her wedding day, Margaret was bedecked in flowers rather than tons of glittering jewels, but she did choose a long strand of pearls, looped once about her throat, to adorn her wedding dress (see the photograph on the right). She'd worn pearls for years before her wedding, and was often depicted wearing a single-stranded, shorter pearl necklace as a young princess. Three-year-old Margaret was depicted wearing a delicate gold and pearl necklace in a portrait commissioned by her grandmother, Queen Victoria, in 1885 [4]; fourteen years later, Victoria ordered a second portrait of Margaret, this time wearing a pearl necklace and a diamond and pearl brooch [5].

Even though she had access to magnificent diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and aquamarines as the Swedish crown princess, Margaret was frequently photographed in simple pearl jewelry instead. It's difficult to say exactly where Margaret's pearls are today. She died suddenly in 1920 (the year the photograph at the top of this post was published) at the age of thirty-eight, following complications after surgery. The jewel inheritance of her more striking pieces, including her tiaras and intricate necklaces, have been well-documented, but the fate of everyday jewels like her pearls has been discussed far less. 

We know that Margaret's only daughter, Queen Ingrid of Denmark, wore pearls throughout her lifetime. Some of those pearls came from the Danish royal collection, but it's almost certain that some of the long strands she wore in ropes around her neck originally came from her mother's jewelry box [6]. Those pearls today are worn by another Margaret -- her granddaughter, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark.

1. Detail of Swedish picture postcard published in Stockholm in 1920. Caption reads "Kronprinssessan Margareta." Image in the public domain; source here.

2. See a full list of Margaret's wedding gifts, published in The Times, here at the RJWMB.
3. Cropped version of photo in the public domain; source here.
4. The Sohn portrait is currently in the Royal Collection; see it here.
5. The portrait, by von Angeli, is also in the Royal Collection; see it here.
6. See a photo here of Queen Ingrid wearing a long pearl necklace that once belonged to Margaret of Connaught.