04 January 2014

Saturday Sparkler: The Prussian Meander Tiara

Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin as Crown Princess of Prussia, wearing the Meander tiara [1]
Once rulers of an entire empire, the House of Hohenzollern had a suitably grand selection of tiaras at their disposal at the beginning of the twentieth century. This tiara, the kokoshnik-style meander, supplemented the already impressive collection. It was created in 1905 by Koch, a German jeweller who created numerous pieces for the Prussian royal family.

Crown Prince Wilhelm commissioned the tiara as a wedding gift for his bride, Duchess Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (who was the sister of Queen Alexandrine of Denmark). Cecilie certainly deserved to get an impressive tiara out of the deal. Her husband was a notorious philanderer -- there were even claims of an affair with Mata Hari, which was probably a bad idea all around if true.

Anyway, the the tiara is impressive indeed. The piece is shaped like a kokoshnik headdress, with a Greek key design running along its borders and delicate diamond latticework in the central sections. Large diamonds are studded across the piece, giving extra substance and sparkle to the light and airy web of smaller diamonds.

Some think that the Greeks originally used meander designs to symbolize unity, and so it makes sense that this wedding gift became something of a traditional wedding tiara for the Hohenzollerns. One of the most fascinating women in the family, Grand Duchess Kira Kirillovna of Russia, wore it when she married Wilhelm and Cecilie's son, Prince Louis Ferdinand, in 1938. Almost thirty years later, her daughter, Princess Marie-C├ęcile, wore the tiara at her wedding to Duke Friedrich August of Oldenburg.

The tiara appeared once more on a Prussian bride in 2011, when Princess Sophie of Isenburg, the wife of Prince Georg Friedrich of Prussia, surprised many by donning it at her wedding reception. (You'll remember that she wore her family's tiara for the ceremony.) Georg Friedrich is the grandson of Louis Ferdinand and Kira -- and he's also the stepson and nephew of the aforementioned Duke Friedrich August of Oldenburg. Have a bit of fun with Google on that subject after you've finished marveling at this meander! [2]

1. Detail of Portrait of Crown Princess Cecilie of Prussia (1908) by Caspar Ritter. Available on Wikimedia Commons; source here.
2 A version of this post originally appeared at A Tiara a Day in June 2013.