28 May 2016

Queen Sofia's Star and Pearl Tiara

Princess Benedikte wears the Star and Pearl Tiara (Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

The famous trio of Danish royal sisters -- Queen Margrethe II, Princess Benedikte, and Queen Anne-Marie -- have an amazing collective stash of tiaras. Today's tiara, the elaborate and unusual Star and Pearl Tiara, belongs to the middle sister of the family, Princess Benedikte.

Queen Sofia of Sweden wears the tiara

The first owner of the tiara was Queen Sofia of Sweden, who was born a princess of Nassau. When she married Crown Prince Oscar of Sweden (later King Oscar II) in 1857, she received this tiara as a wedding present. The giver was her brother Adolphe, who would later become the grand duke of Luxembourg. The tiara, which features alternating diamond stars and upright pear-shaped pearls set on diamond spikes, was apparently made about the same time, dating it to the middle of the nineteenth century. Diamond stars were incredible popular in this era, popularized by Empress Elisabeth ("Sisi") of Austria-Hungary.

In his book on Danish royal jewels, Bjarne Steen Jensen notes that the tiara was altered slightly at some point after Sofia received it. In the portrait of Sofia wearing the tiara above (which Jensen dates to the late nineteenth century), the center star is noticeably taller than the rest of the elements of the tiara. In photographs of the tiara on all of its other wearers, that middle star has been lowered so that it sits evenly with the other stars.

When she died in 1913, Sofia left the tiara to another Swedish queen: her daughter-in-law, Victoria of Baden. And when Victoria died in 1930, she was specific about who she wanted to inherit the piece: her granddaughter, Princess Ingrid. When Ingrid married Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark (later King Frederik IX) five years later, she took the tiara with her to her new country. In the photograph above, Crown Princess Ingrid wears the tiara during the 1938 celebrations for the 80th birthday of her grandfather, King Gustaf V of Sweden. (Eagle-eyed tiara spotters will also note that Ingrid's necklace was later turned into the Antique Corsage Tiara, Anne-Marie's 18th birthday tiara.)

During Ingrid's lifetime, she was generous in lending this tiara to other members of the family. Her younger daughters, Anne-Marie of Greece and Benedikte of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg, both borrowed the tiara from Ingrid; so did Benedikte's daughters. In 1964, Ingrid lent the tiara to her cousin, Princess Margaretha of Denmark, to wear at Anne-Marie's royal wedding in Athens. Jensen posits that Ingrid chose to lend Margaretha this particular tiara because it was originally owned by Margaretha's grandmother, Queen Sofia of Sweden.

Princess Benedikte wears the tiara (Photo: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)

When Queen Ingrid died in 2000, the tiara was left to Princess Benedikte. Today, Benedikte wears the tiara frequently, often pairing it with another set of star elements (from the collection of Victoria of Baden) that can be worn as brooches, earrings, hair ornaments, or even suspended on a necklace. (Unlike other star tiaras, the stars on this piece are fixed and apparently are not removed.) She also follows her mother's example and often lends the tiara to the other women in her family. Both of Benedikte’s daughters, Alexandra and Nathalie, have been photographed in the tiara, as has her son’s partner, Carina Axelsson.

Note: This is an updated version of an older post with new text and images.