17 May 2014

Saturday Sparkler: Queen Josefina's Diamond Tiara

When you first dig into the history of the Scandinavian royal families, one of the first things you notice is the plethora of empresses, queens, and princesses named "Josephine" in the family tree. Because of that, there are many opportunities to confuse the royal Josephines with their various tiaras.

But the Josephine associated with this lovely diamond tiara is clear: it comes from Queen Josefina of Sweden and Norway (née Princess Joséphine of Leuchtenberg), the wife of King Oscar I and the granddaughter of another famous Josephine (that would be Napoleon’s Empress Joséphine). So many Josephines!

Although some have suggested that this tiara first belonged to Queen Désirée of Sweden, most seem to agree that Queen Josefina was actually its first wearer. Some think it may have been a wedding present to Josefina, and maybe even worn by her on her wedding day [1], though no one knows precisely who the giver might have been. The maker is also uncertain, but the design is beautiful and typical of the first half of the nineteenth century, with its intricate diamond floral and laurel wreath elements.

When Josefina died, the tiara was inherited by her granddaughter, Princess Louise, who married King Frederik VIII of Denmark. The tiara adorned various Danish royal heads until it was gifted to Louise’s granddaughter, Princess Märtha of Sweden, who married Crown Prince Olav of Norway in 1929. Märtha died before she could become queen of Norway herself, but her daughter-in-law, Queen Sonja, wears Josefina’s diamond tiara on a regular basis these days [2].

1. This is posited by Norwegian royal historian Trond Noren Isaksen; here's a link to his post on the tiara.
2. A version of this post originally appeared at A Tiara a Day in January 2013.