03 May 2014

Saturday Sparkler: Queen Sofia's Star and Pearl Tiara

This week, the Princess of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg -- better known as Princess Benedikte of Denmark -- celebrated her seventieth birthday. She's the daughter of King Frederik IX and Queen Ingrid of Denmark and the sister of two more queens, Margrethe II of Denmark and Anne-Marie (formerly) of Greece. As such, she has some pretty significant heirloom jewelry in her collection. Today's tiara is one of the ones that she inherited from her late mother.

Queen Sofia wearing the tiara [1]
The first owner of the tiara was Queen Sofia of Sweden, who was born a princess of Nassau, a German duchy. When she married the crown prince of Sweden (later Oscar II) in 1857, she received this tiara as a wedding gift. The giver was her brother Adolphe, who would later become the grand duke of Luxembourg. The tiara, which features alternating diamond stars and pearls set on diamond spikes, was apparently made about the same time, dating it to the middle of the nineteenth century.

Sofia left the tiara to another Swedish queen: her daughter-in-law, Victoria of Baden. And when Victoria died in 1930, she was specific about who she wanted to inherit the piece: her granddaughter, Princess Ingrid. When Ingrid married the future King Frederik IX of Denmark five years later, she took the tiara with her to her new country. You’ll sometimes see the piece called "Queen Ingrid's Star and Pearl Tiara" because of its association with Queen Ingrid.

Ingrid had a significant collection of tiaras, and when she died in 2000, they were divided among her three daughters. This tiara was left to her second child, Princess Benedikte. Today, Benedikte wears the tiara frequently, often pairing it with another set of star elements that can be worn as brooches, earrings, hair ornaments, or even suspended on a necklace. (Unlike other star tiaras, the stars on this piece are fixed and apparently are not removed.) She also lends the tiara to the other women in her family. Both of Benedikte’s daughters, Alexandra and Nathalie, have been photographed in the tiara, as has her son’s partner, Carina Axelsson [2].

1. Photograph in the public domain due to age; source here.
2. A version of this post originally appeared at A Tiara a Day in July 2013.