04 October 2014

Queen Alia's Cartier Tiara

It's hard to find a more collectively glamorous group of royal women than the ladies of the Jordanian royal family. Today’s tiara, the Cartier tiara that belonged to the late Queen Alia, has been worn by three of the country’s queens and princesses.

Alia and Hussein of Jordan at their wedding, 1972

Alia Baha Ad-Din Touqan was the third of the four wives of King Hussein of Jordan. (The first was Princess Dina; the second, Princess Muna, is the mother of the current king, Abdullah II; and the fourth is the American-born Queen Noor.) Alia was the daughter of a Jordanian diplomat and had lived and studied all over the world before marrying King Hussein in 1972.

Rania wears Queen Alia's tiara, 1999

The diamond Cartier tiara that Alia wore was given to her by the king. It’s reminiscent of a fringe tiara, but really the design is quite abstract and very modern, more linear than floral. (The Jordanian royals seem to favor this kind of contemporary design; Queen Noor also has a tiara that is similar to this one.) The tiara is also intriguing in that it has an exceptionally tall base, requiring serious tiara hair.

Hussein and Alia of Jordan with President Ford, 1974

Just like her tiara, Alia was a rather modern Jordanian queen; she supported women’s suffrage and was a great supporter of children’s charities and the arts. Unfortunately, her tenure as queen consort was short. In 1977, she died in a helicopter crash in Amman. To celebrate the late queen’s life, the country’s international airport was named for Alia — in fact, it’s one of only a few international airports named for a woman.

Princess Haya of Jordan, Sheikha of Dubai ca. 2005

Alia’s only daughter, Princess Haya, inherited her mother’s tiara. (Here's a portrait of her wearing the sparkler.) The Jordanian royal family doesn’t have a crown jewel collection, and all of their jewels are apparently personal property, generally handed down from mother to daughter rather than retained for the use of future queens.

Rania wears the tiara at a gala dinner in Madrid, 1999

However, this tiara has been worn several times by a subsequent queen consort. Haya, who is now married to the Sheikh of Dubai, loaned the tiara on various occasions to her sister-in-law, Queen Rania, shortly after she became queen. Rania even wore the tiara at her husband's coronation in 1999, linking Alia’s heirloom tiara with the next generation of Jordanian royals. Rania's jewel collection has since grown to include other sparklers, but the images from the coronation provide a lovely connection between the country's past and its future.