07 February 2015

Queen Margherita's Musy Tiara

Even though the House of Savoy’s tenure as Italian monarchs was a relatively short-lived one — they ruled over the unified country for less than a century — the family still managed to amass quite the jewel collection. And while many pieces have been lost or sold since the family went into exile, today’s tiara, the impressive Musy tiara that belonged to Queen Margherita, has managed to stay in the Savoy collection.

The tiara dates to 1904, when Queen Margherita, who was by then the nation’s dowager queen, ordered it from Musy. Some of Margherita’s own pieces were broken up to create this new tiara, which is one of the most versatile diadems in any royal family’s arsenal. Different sections of the tiara can be removed or swapped out to create new looks. The piece, which incorporates scroll and shell motifs and floral elements with large central pearls, is somehow large and airy at the same time. (It’s an impressive design, but I have to admit that it’s my second favorite thing associated with Margherita. A girl’s got to have her priorities!)

Margherita wore the new tiara for the first time at the christening of her grandson, the future King Umberto II, so it’s appropriate that when she shuffled off this mortal coil in 1926, she bequeathed the piece to him. In turn, Umberto gave the tiara to his bride, Princess Marie José of Belgium, as a wedding gift. She wore it on their wedding day in 1930, and it became one of the pieces she was most associated with. Above, she wears the tiara in 1960 during the wedding festivities of King Baudouin and Queen Fabiola of Belgium.

After the Italian people voted to end their monarchy in 1946, Marie José took the tiara with her into exile. Eventually she passed the tiara on to the woman who would be queen today had the monarchy not been abolished: Marina, the wife of Umberto and Marie José’s son, Vittorio Emanuele. Although she has few occasions to wear such a major piece, Marina did sport the complete tiara — and a pair of dark lenses — at the wedding of Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark in 2004.