13 October 2014

Jewel History: Will Sell Queen's Jewels (1907)


Marie Henriette of Austria, Queen of Belgium, ca. 1875

"Will Sell Queen's Jewels"
(originally appeared in the New York Times on 8 Oct and 13 Oct 1907)


BRUSSELS, OCT 7 -- An auctioneer has been commissioned to sell the linens, jewels, souvenirs, etc. belonging to the late Queen of Belgium [1], the proceeds devoted to paying the debts of her daughter, Princess Louise, who was divorced last year by Prince Philipp of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha [2].



Princess Louise and Prince Philipp, ca. 1875

Among the objects is a diadem presented to the Queen by the people of Belgium on the occasion of her silver wedding anniversary [3]. The diadem cost $30,000. 



Portrait of Marie Henriette of Austria, Queen of Belgium

BRUSSELS, OCT 12 -- The municipality of Brussels has decided not to purchase the diadem of the late Queen of Belgium, deeming it not sufficiently valuable as a work of art to render its retention in the country desirable.



Princess Louise, ca. 1890

This diadem was presented to the Queen by the people of Belgium on the occasion of her silver wedding anniversary. It cost $30,000. Together with various other jewels, souvenirs, etc. belonging to the late Queen, it has been placed on sale, the proceeds to be devoted to paying the debts of Princess Louise, one of the Queen's daughters [4].


NOTES
1. Marie Henriette of Austria (1836-1902) was the queen consort of King Leopold II of Belgium. The couple married in 1853 and ascended to the Belgian throne in 1865; however, the marriage was unhappy, and Marie Henriette moved out of the palace to live at a retreat in Spa for the last seven years of her life.
2. Princess Louise of Belgium (1858-1924) was the eldest of four children of King Leopold II and Queen Marie Henriette. She married her second cousin, Prince Philipp of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, in 1875. The couple had two children, but in 1897, Louise left Philipp for Count Geza Mattachich. The story is wild: Philipp and Mattachich fought a duel (!); Mattachich forged the signature of Louise's sister, Princess St├ęphanie, on promissory notes for millions of dollars' worth of jewels and was subsequently imprisoned; and Louise was sent to an asylum. Philipp and Louise were officially divorced in 1906, and this sale was coordinated to pay off some of Louise's tremendous debts.
3. The tiara, which included pink diamonds, was reportedly made to resemble a set of ostrich feathers. Marie Henriette received it as a silver wedding anniversary gift in 1878. Although the public protested, the jewels were sold. Read more at Ursula's site.
4. One of Louise's jewels is still worn by a royal woman today. The sapphire tiara worn by Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom was originally a necklace from Louise's collection. The Queen bought the necklace in the 1960s and had it set on a tiara frame.