Fifteen years ago in Britain, the Earl and Countess of Wessex weren't the only royals getting hitched. Another even bigger royal wedding was held a few weeks later, and even though its bride was a princess of a country that no longer had a monarchy, the nuptials were far grander and glittering even than that of the Queen's youngest son.
Princess Alexia of Greece and Denmark is the eldest child of King Constantine II of Greece, the last Greek monarch, and Queen Anne-Marie, who was born a princess of Denmark. Alexia was born in Corfu, in the same house, Mon Repos, where the Duke of Edinburgh had been born on the kitchen table decades earlier. The Greek royal family left Alexia's native country in 1967 after a military coup. They eventually settled in England, where the king had a number of cousins (including the queen's husband). Both of the king's eldest children's marriages took place in London.
Alexia married a Spanish architect, Carlos Morales Quintana, in a Greek orthodox ceremony at the Saint Sophia Cathedral in Bayswater. But although the wedding service reflected Alexia's Greek religion and heritage, the jewelry she wore at her wedding is a reminder of her maternal royal ancestry. The tiara she wore on her wedding day is the Cartier tiara given as a wedding present by the Khedive of Egypt to Princess Margaret of Connaught in 1905. Alexia borrowed the tiara from her grandmother, Queen Ingrid of Denmark; the piece belongs today to Alexia's mother, Queen Anne-Marie.
All of the female descendants of Margaret's daughter, Queen Ingrid, have worn the tiara on their wedding days. (You can read lots more about the tiara here.) Alexia is also wearing Margaret's heirloom Irish lace veil. Her dress was made by Inge Sprawson. She also wore a lovely pair of diamond drop earrings on the day. As far as I know, no information about the provenance of the earrings has ever been made available, but I can see an intriguing resemblance between the earrings and the diamond drops on another piece of jewelry from Margaret of Connaught's collection: the Connaught diamond tiara.
Alexia's bridal party was rounded out by three attendants. Her younger sister, Princess Theodora, acted as the head bridesmaid. In true late '90s style, she wore extremely minimal jewelry -- just a pair of small earrings -- but had an extra embellishment courtesy the pattern embroidered on her pale purple dress.
Along with helping her sister, Theodora also had two young bridesmaids in her charge: her niece, Princess Maria Olympia of Greece and Denmark (daughter of Crown Prince Pavlos and Princess Marie-Chantal), and Princess Mafalda of Bulgaria (daughter of Prince Kyril and Princess Rosario).
The mother of the bride, Queen Anne-Marie, wore the same soft purple color as Princess Theodora. She also wore a set of pearl and sapphire jewels, including a five-row pearl choker necklace with a central sapphire stone, coordinating sapphire earrings with three small pearl drops, a bracelet, and a ring. I'm intrigued by this set, because it's not one that Anne-Marie wears often.
Prince Constantine-Alexios, Crown Prince Pavlos, and Princess Marie-Chantal
Alexia's sister-in-law, Princess Marie-Chantal, also chose pearls for the occasion, plus one of those flower-ball purses that were so popular for about two years in the 1990s. The cutest accessory that Pavlos and Marie-Chantal brought along, of course, is baby Constantine-Alexios, who is now a teenager (!).
Just as Edward and Sophie's wedding was one of the last big royal occasions attended by the Queen Mother, Princess Alexia's wedding was one of the last major appearances of her grandmother, Queen Ingrid of Denmark, who died in 2000. Pinned to Ingrid's coat is one of her most sentimental pieces of jewelry: the diamond daisy brooch given to her by her father as a wedding present. Ingrid wore it on her wedding day, as did her daughter, Queen Margrethe. (More on the brooch here.). A few months later, Ingrid would give the brooch to Margrethe as a sixtieth birthday present.
Princess Alexia's aunt, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, wore another family brooch at the wedding. She has gathered her pearl necklace with a horizontal bar brooch made of diamonds and three large pearls. The brooch was an eighteenth-birthday gift from her great-aunt, Lady Patricia Ramsay, who was born Princess Patricia of Connaught. Patricia wore the brooch on her own wedding dress in 1919.
Princess Benedikte, Prince Charles, Queen Sonja, and Grand Duchess Josephine-Charlotte
Princess Benedikte, Alexia's other maternal aunt, is visible in the foreground of this photograph. She paired an intriguing choker made of white and black pearls in a chevron pattern with her yellow outfit.
Here's someone you don't often see at non-British royal weddings: Queen Elizabeth II! The Windsors, of course, have major ties to their Greek cousins. Elizabeth's husband, Prince Philip, was born a Greek prince; the Queen herself also enjoys a close friendship with King Constantine. HM wore her usual daytime combination of pearl earrings, pearl necklace, and brooch for the wedding. She's chosen one of the oldest brooches in her current collection: the pearl pendant brooch that belonged to Queen Mary's grandmother, the Duchess of Cambridge.
Pearl pendant brooches were a popular choice for this wedding, it seems. Queen Sonja of Norway wore a brooch with a rather intriguing history. The round diamond brooch, which can be worn either with or without the pearl drop, originally belonged to Queen Alexandra. It made its way into the Norwegian royal collection via Queen Maud, and Sonja has worn it at important events in the past, including Princess Martha Louise's christening (see here and here).
King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia of Spain
Through her father's sister, Queen Sofia, Princess Alexia is also related to the Spanish royal family. Sofia honored her Greek roots at her niece's wedding by wearing her pearl necklace with a ruby and diamond pendant that once belonged to her mother (and the bride's grandmother/godmother) Queen Friederike.
Infanta Elena, Alexia's cousin, is wearing a hat that's going to look verrrry familiar to those of you who read The Royal Roundup. It's basically the same style of hat that Marie-Chantal wore five years later at Prince Felipe's wedding in Madrid. They're not exactly the same, but it's certainly close. The always-elegant Elena also wore pearl jewelry: a two-stranded pearl necklace and long pearl drop earrings. Additionally, she's wearing a sparkling bracelet on each wrist.
Elena's younger sister, Infanta Cristina, is now persona non grata in the Spanish royal family, but back in 1999, she was just another royal newlywed expecting her first child. This is speculation, but the brooch that Cristina has used here to secure her sheer jacket looks quite a lot like the sapphire and diamond tiara that belonged to her grandmother, the Countess of Barcelona. I'm not sure if that tiara's elements detach to form brooches, or if perhaps a brooch is among the pieces of the coordinating set, but there certainly is a resemblance.
The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and Princess Irene of Greece and Denmark
Sofia is not the only member of the former Greek royal family who lives in Spain. Her sister, Princess Irene of Greece and Denmark, also lives in Madrid. She almost managed to sneak by the photographers at her niece's wedding, but that's her, wearing pearl earrings, in the background of this photo of the Gloucesters. (And speaking of the Gloucesters, Birgitte has also followed the pearl trend, with pearl earrings and a pearl necklace.)
The Duke of Kent, Princess Alexandra, and Crown Princess Margarita of Romania
Along with the Gloucesters, the Kents also attended the wedding. Through their mother, Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark, the three Kent children -- Edward, Alexandra, and Michael -- are also related to the Greek royal family. Princess Alexandra, the Hon. Lady Ogilvy is wearing pearl earrings and a pearl choker with a diamond clasp. Behind her, Crown Princess Margarita of Romania has added a brooch to her pearl earrings and necklace.
Leave it to Princess Michael to break up the pearl monotony! Along with a dramatic pair of earrings, Marie Christine accessorized her coat with a large bejeweled leaf brooch.
Queen Silvia of Sweden added a bit of sparkle to her soft blue hat and coat. Along with a pearl necklace, she pinned an heirloom brooch to her neckline. Made of pearls, rubies, and diamonds, this floral brooch first belonged to Josephine of Leuchtenberg, the wife of King Oscar I of Sweden. The five pearls in the brooch represented Oscar and Josephine's five children. Silvia sometimes wears this piece as a hair ornament as well.
Crown Princess Victoria wore pearl earrings, a necklace that mixed larger pearls with small seed pearls, and a big, bad '90s hat.
And Princess Madeleine wore monochromatic pink with small earrings and a delicate pendant necklace.
Princess Rosario of Bulgaria, mother of one of Alexia's bridesmaids, eschewed jewelry almost completely, as if anything could have pulled focus from that chapeau.
Queen Noor of Jordan wore a gorgeous pair of pearl and diamond earrings.
Grand Duchess Josephine-Charlotte of Luxembourg wore an elegant ivory suit with pearl earrings, a bracelet, and a gold-toned brooch that looks to have a floral motif.
Crown Princess Katherine of Serbia, another relative of the Greeks through her husband, Crown Prince Alexander (whose mother was Princess Alexandra of Greece and Denmark), rounded out the guest list. She too chose pearls for her accessories, though she also added a diamond brooch to the lapel of her jacket.
And that's it for our look back at the jewels of Princess Alexia's wedding! Which royal jewel look was your favorite?