14 March 2015

Saturday Sparkler: The King Edward VII Ruby Tiara

Like so many of the Swedish royal family's jewels, their ruby tiara came to the Bernadottes in 1905 when Princess Margaret of Connaught married Prince Gustaf Adolf of Sweden. The tiara was a wedding present from Margaret’s uncle and aunt, King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra of the United Kingdom.

Margaret of Connaught, ca. 1914 (source)

Unfortunately, Margaret’s story has a tragic end — she never got to be queen of Sweden, as she died in 1920 of an infection after having operation. Her tiaras were dispersed between her children. Today, some are still with the Swedish royals, while others followed Margaret’s daughter, Ingrid, to Denmark. This particular tiara was inherited by Prince Sigvard, Margaret’s second son. Sigvard, who was stripped of his royal title when he married a commoner, sold the tiara; but conveniently, the buyer was Sigvard’s father, Gustaf VI Adolf.

But there were problems with this sale. Sigvard, pictured above, claimed he’d only really loaned the tiara (which can also be worn as a necklace) to the king, but Gustaf VI Adolf maintained the sale was legitimate. Possibly as a mea culpa, the king left the tiara to Sigvard’s son, Michael, when he died in 1973. But then Michael sold the tiara — to the new king, Carl XVI Gustaf.

Sigvard lived until 2002, and Queen Silvia did not begin wearing the tiara regularly in public until after his death. Today she’s the primary wearer of the piece. Now that the ownership of this historic Connaught/Bernadotte piece has finally been settled, perhaps it’s time to place it in the family jewel foundation once and for all?