18 August 2014

Jewel History: Diamonds with a History (1891)

Maria Letizia Bonaparte, Duchess of Aosta (source)

"Diamonds with a History"
(originally appeared in the New York Times, 16 Aug 1891)

The magnificent diamond tiara and necklace [1] which the Duchess of Aosta [2] wore when she appeared in full dress on her recent visit to England are the famous jewels which the Emperor Napoleon [3] gave to Princess Clotilde [4] in 1859 on her marriage, and they were worth a good fortune.

Prince Napoléon and Maria Clotilde of Savoy, ca. 1859 (source)

When Princess Clotilde fled to Italy in September 1870, she took these jewels with her, and placed them in charge of King Victor Emmanuel [5], who peremptorily refused to give them up to Prince Napoleon, who was anxious to convert them into money; but he never succeeded at recapturing them, although he frequently attempted to do so. The Duchess of Aosta left Paris on Saturday for Moncalieri, near Turin, on a visit to her mother, Princess Clotilde.

1. Here's the only image that I've seen of Letizia wearing a tiara -- and she appears to be wearing two???
2. Maria Letizia Bonaparte (1866-1926) was the Duchess of Aosta in 1891. Her parents were Napoléon Joseph Bonaparte (commonly known by the title of "Prince Napoléon"), who was the nephew of Napoléon I, and Maria Clotilde of Savoy, who was the daughter of King Vittorio Emanuele II of Italy. Letizia married the Duke of Aosta (who unfortunately was also her maternal uncle) in 1888; he died two years later.
3. Napoléon III of France (1808-1873), who was the first cousin of the Duchess of Aosta's father, Napoléon Joseph Bonaparte, Prince Napoléon.
4. Princess Maria Clotilde of Savoy (1843-1911), the mother of the Duchess of Aosta.
5. King Vittorio Emanuele II of Italy (1820-1878), Clotilde's father.