09 July 2016

The Stuart Tiara

The Stuart Tiara (Photo: Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Today, we're open-mouthed staring at one of the sparkliest Dutch tiaras of them all: the Stuart tiara. This whopper of a diadem includes one of the rarest and most historic diamonds in any royal collection, the Stuart (or Holland) Diamond. That single diamond alone weighs almost forty carats!

King William III and Queen Mary II, depicted in a nineteenth-century engraving (Image: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The Stuart Diamond’s first recorded owner was a member of the House of Stuart (hence the name): Queen Mary II of England, wife and co-regnant of King William III (who was born William of Orange; he helped to overthrow his father-in-law, James II, in the Glorious Revolution of 1688). Mary and William purchased the diamond themselves after they married, and it was originally set in a brooch. (Read a more detailed history of the diamond over here!)

The Great Exhibition of 1851 (Image: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The diamond went back to the Netherlands after first Mary and then William died. It actually returned to England, however, when a subsequent Prince of Orange went into exile. Queen Charlotte encouraged his wife, Princess Wilhelmina, to have some of the family’s jewels made over, and the Stuart was remodeled as a pendant necklace. Although the family was able to return triumphantly to the Netherlands by 1815, the stone came back to England one more time when it was displayed in London at the famous Great Exhibition of 1851.

Queen Wilhelmina wears the tiara at her 1898 inauguration (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The Stuart Diamond wasn’t placed in a tiara until 1897, when Schürmann designed this tiara. It was ordered by Queen Emma specifically for the investiture of her daughter, Queen Wilhelmina. Wilhelmina wore the tiara at her investiture in 1898, which you can just see in the photograph above. She wore a smaller version of the tiara (without the upper row of diamonds, including the Stuart) for her wedding in 1901.

Queen Wilhelmina wears the tiara (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

She also wore it in the above formal portrait. Here you can also clearly see another part of the House Diamond Parure: the large corsage brooch, which is in the shape of a bow. Various members of the present-day Dutch royal family have worn components of this corsage brooch. The parure also includes a large necklace.

Queen Juliana wears the tiara with its accompanying necklace and corsage brooch (Photo: Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The queen who sported the tiara most often was Wilhelmina's daughter, Queen Juliana. In the picture above, Juliana wears the tiara at a gala concert celebrating her 1948 inauguration. She also wore the tiara at other major royal events, including the wedding of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and a 1972 state visit to the United Kingdom.

Queen Juliana wears the tiara, necklace, and corsage brooch in 1962 (Photo: Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Juliana is also the last person to have been photographed wearing the tiara. Neither Princess Beatrix nor Queen Máxima has worn the tiara in public. Some have suggested that alterations have been made to the rather enormous tiara to make it more wearable for a modern woman, but those rumors have apparently not been substantiated. Who knows? Perhaps Máxima, who is known for being adventurous with her jewels, will take this one out of the vaults at last. Maybe another state visit to the United Kingdom would be an appropriate time to let the Stuart Diamond shine again?

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