15 March 2014

Saturday Sparkler: The Connaught Fringe Tiara

The Duchess of Connaught wears her fringe tiara, 1902 [1]
There are many convertible diamond fringe tiaras in royal vaults today, but the fringe tiara of the Connaught family has a long royal history — longer than that of many other tiaras in the collections of various British royals.

Louise Margaret [2]
The first recorded owner of this diamond fringe is the Duchess of Kent, mother of Queen Victoria; she left the tiara to the queen. In 1879, Victoria gave the tiara as a wedding present to her new daughter-in-law, Princess Louise Margaret of Prussia, the new of Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn. Princess Louise wore the fringe as a necklace at her wedding, opting to wear a wreath of flowers on her head instead of a tiara (see the photograph at left). She donned the piece as a tiara, however, for one of the most important royal occasions of the early twentieth century: the 1902 coronation of her brother- and sister-in-law, King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra (see the photograph above). On that occasion, she placed the fringe atop a larger jeweled base to give it additional height, likely to complement the height of her coronet (which you can see with the tiara in this picture postcard -- it also features her daughters, Margaret and Patricia).

From Louise Margaret, the tiara was passed to her younger daughter, Princess Patricia of Connaught (who renounced her titles on her marriage to a commoner, becoming Lady Patricia Ramsay). It’s safe to say that Louise’s elder daughter wasn’t much in need of family tiaras to wear. Margaret had married the future King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden and had access to the Bernadotte jewel collection (and the glittering wedding presents she had received in 1905).

Lady Patricia wore the fringe tiara at the 1937 coronation of King George VI; you can see it in this portrait of Patricia with her niece, then Crown Princess Ingrid of Denmark, and Ingrid's husband, the future King Frederik IX. From that point, however, we lose sight of the piece. It was apparently not included in the estate auction of her jewels in 1974. Perhaps it remains with the family today? [3]

1. Cropped and edited version of an image in the public domain; source here.
2. Cropped version of an image in the public domain; source here.
3. A version of this post originally appeared at A Tiara a Day in March 2013.