16 July 2016

Queen Josefina's Diamond Tiara

Queen Josefina's Diamond Tiara (Photo: MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP/Getty Images)

When you first dig into the history of the Scandinavian royal families, one of the first things you notice is the plethora of empresses, queens, and princesses named "Josephine" in the family tree. Because of that, there are many opportunities to confuse the royal Josephines with their various tiaras. But the Josephine associated with this lovely diamond tiara is clear: it comes from Queen Josefina of Sweden and Norway (née Princess Joséphine of Leuchtenberg), the wife of King Oscar I and the granddaughter of another famous Josephine (that would be Napoleon’s Empress Joséphine). So many Josephines!

Queen Josefina of Sweden and Norway wears the tiara

Although some have suggested that this tiara first belonged to Queen Désirée of Sweden, most seem to agree that Queen Josefina was actually its first wearer. Some think it may have been a wedding present to Josefina, though no one knows precisely who the giver might have been; historian Trond Noren Isaksen proposes that it may even have been worn by her on her wedding day. The maker is also uncertain, but the design is beautiful and typical of the first half of the nineteenth century, with its intricate diamond floral and laurel wreath elements.

Queen Lovisa of Denmark wears the tiara

When Josefina died, the tiara was inherited by her granddaughter, Lovisa, who married King Frederik VIII of Denmark. After Queen Lovisa's death in 1926, the tiara passed to her unmarried son, Prince Gustav. When he died, he left the tiara to his niece, Princess Märtha of Sweden, who had married Crown Prince Olav of Norway in 1929.

Queen Sonja wears the tiara (Photo: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

Märtha died before she could become queen of Norway. After her death, her daughter, Princess Astrid, frequently wore the tiara while serving as Norway's de facto first lady. Today, it's Märtha's daughter-in-law, Queen Sonja, who wears Josefina’s tiara.

Note: this is an updated version of an earlier post, with new text and images.