26 July 2014

Saturday Sparkler: Queen Sirikit's Fringe Tiara

(image via Wikimedia Commons)

We spend a lot of time talking about the longevity of monarchs like Queen Elizabeth II, but she's certainly not the only long-reigning sovereign around. Today, we're looking at a diamond fringe tiara that belongs to Queen Sirikit of Thailand, the longest-serving royal consort in the world. 

Queen Sirikit's husband, King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, is currently the longest-serving head of state, having acceded to the throne in June 1946. The pair have been married for 64 years, so Sirikit's had quite a bit of experience with royal glitter.

(image via Wikimedia Commons)

I love when royals are inventive with their jewels, and Queen Sirikit's use of her gorgeous diamond fringe tiara definitely fits that bill. The tiara is designed in a traditional Russian style; most royal families have at least one of these tiaras, which are meant to resemble the kokoshnik headdresses worn by women in Russia. Over the years, the queen has worn the fringe both in that kokoshnik-esque halo form, stretching around her head, and bunched tightly atop her head like a crown, a traditional Thai way of wearing a diadem.

Although, like many other Asian royal families, the Thai royals only began wearing Western-style tiaras relatively recently, the family today has an extensive and impressive collection of jewels. This particular tiara is reportedly one of the most important pieces in the vaults, having apparently been owned by Queen Saovabha Bongsri, who became the first female regent of the country in 1897. Indeed, many of the portraits of Queen Sirikit depict her wearing this tiara, underscoring its significance.

Unfortunately, Sirikit's health has declined in recent years; she suffered a stroke in 2012, and she rarely makes public appearances. But images of her wearing the tiara are prevalent in the country (like the portrait held by a Thai woman above), and it has become a familiar symbol of her royal position.