|The Dutch Ears of Wheat Tiara (Photo: Michel Porro/Getty Images)|
This tiara began its life far from the Netherlands, and not as a tiara. The “ears” were originally a set of eight diamond and silver brooches owned by Grand Duchess Catherine Pavlovna of Russia. They were apparently made around the turn of the nineteenth century; as Catherine was still living with her Romanov family at that point, it’s possible that they’re a Russian creation. Catherine married twice — first to Duke Georg of Oldenburg and then, after being widowed, to King William I of Württemberg — and the brooches traveled with her to each of her new homes.
Catherine’s only daughter, Sophie, inherited the brooches; she became queen of the Netherlands as a result of her marriage to her first cousin, the future King Willem III, in 1839. When Sophie died in 1877, the brooches passed to her only living child: her youngest son, Prince Alexander. He was expected to become king, but his unexpected death at the age of 32 meant that his younger half-sister, the four-year-old Princess Wilhelmina, became the heir to the throne and the new owner of the wheat brooches.
Wilhelmina wore the diamond ornaments attached to a headdress, but the brooches were not mounted on a tiara frame until the 1950s. The tiara can hold either four, six, or all eight of the brooches. Princess Irene was the first to wear the tiara, but it quickly became a favored piece of Princess Margriet (pictured above). It’s only fitting, then, that all four of her daughters-in-law wore the tiara for their weddings: Princess Marilène in 1998, Princess Annette in 2000, and Princesses Anita and Aimée in 2005.
|Princess Victoria and Prince Jaime of Bourbon-Parma (Photo: Michel Porro/Getty Images)|
Princess Beatrix's branch of the royal family has also taken the ears of wheat out for a spin. Princess Laurentien wore the tiara at the Norwegian royal wedding in 2001.
Queen Maxima has also worn the ears of wheat, but not as a tiara. She's worn several pieces from the set as hair slides; on one occasion, she also affixed some of the ears to her hat.