15 March 2016

Princess Lilian and the Nine Provinces Tiara

Following last week's glittering state banquet, there was much discussion about Belgian royal jewels here and elsewhere. Over on the Royal Jewels of the World Message Board, the talk turned to the jewels worn by Princess Lilian, second wife of King Leopold III, and the thread turned up an interesting surprise.

For years, I've thought (and said here more than once) that although Lilian wore many of the jewels from the collection of her husband's first wife, the late Queen Astrid, she never wore the Nine Provinces Tiara as a traditional tiara. It turns out, though, that that's not precisely true. Lilian apparently did wear the piece as a tiara -- at least in partial form.

Lilian definitely wore the versatile Nine Provinces in other configurations as well. Above, she wears the base of the tiara as a bracelet. (She's also wearing a couple of other important pieces, including Queen Elisabeth's Art Deco Bandeau as a choker necklace, plus her emerald drop earrings and the diamond and emerald bracelet that's now worn by Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg.)

At a dinner at the American Embassy in 1958, Lilian wore the large round diamonds from the Nine Provinces Tiara atop Queen Elisabeth's Art Deco Bandeau. (Also: her emerald drop earrings, Queen Astrid's convertible emerald necklace/tiara, and the large emerald brooch with pendant.)

Some of the large round diamonds were also apparently affixed to the collar-style Van Cleef and Arpels necklace from Lilian's collection.

But here's the real surprise: malluu from the RJWMB offered this photograph of Lilian clearly wearing the meander base of the Nine Provinces Tiara as a bandeau. Lilian wore the tiara of Belgium's queens as a tiara after all -- although she wore only part of it.

What do you think? Should royal spouses wear jewels owned by a previous wife?