19 August 2016

The Alexandrine Diamond Drop Tiara

Looking for the weekly jewel roundup? It's the summer slow season, so we're taking a week off. The top ten jewels of the past fortnight will be up next Friday!

The Alexandrine Diamond Drop Tiara (Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

One of the perks of being a royal princess is that you often receive your very first tiara on your eighteenth birthday. Some of them are dinky (like Crown Princess Victoria’s birthday tiara), some are modern (like Princess Märtha Louise of Norway’s birthday tiara), and some, like this one, are historic family pieces. On her eighteenth birthday, Margrethe II of Denmark’s parents gave her this diamond drop tiara, which originally belonged to her grandmother, Queen Alexandrine.

Queen Alexandrine of Denmark (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

I've read various pieces of information about the tiara's provenance, none of which appear to be confirmed. Some have argued that the tiara was made for Alexandrine in 1912, the same year that she became queen. In his book on the Danish royal jewels, Bjarne Steen Jensen speculates that it was made earlier, at the end of the nineteenth century. He even posits that the tiara may have been Alexandrine's eighteenth-birthday gift from her mother, Grand Duchess Anastasia, although he makes it clear that there's no evidence backing up that theory.

Queen Alexandrine never posed for a portrait wearing the tiara, though Jensen notes that she did wear it at least once in public: at a gala performance at Covent Garden during a 1914 state visit to the United Kingdom. When Alexandrine died in 1952, the piece was inherited by her elder son, King Frederik IX; six years later, he passed it along to his daughter Margrethe as her eighteenth-birthday present.

Margrethe wore the tiara more frequently when she was younger — the delicate tiara, which features scads of teardrop-shaped diamonds suspended en tremblant, is small, and perhaps better suited for a princess than a regal queen. Jensen speculates that this is also the reason that Alexandrine rarely wore the tiara after she became queen and had access to the crown jewel collection.

Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

In 1995, the tiara changed hands once more. Margrethe gave it to her new daughter-in-law, Alexandra Manley, the bride of Prince Joachim. It was her bridal tiara, and in fact, for Alexandra’s entire ten-year tenure as a Danish princess, this was the only tiara she wore. Above, Alexandra wears the tiara during the 2004 wedding celebrations for Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary.

Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

When Alexandra and Joachim divorced, she retained the tiara, taking it out of the family for the first time in nearly a century. (Intriguingly, Margrethe did not give a tiara to Joachim's second wife, Princess Marie -- instead, she offered her Princess Dagmar's Floral Tiara as a long-term loan. Maybe she learned a lesson the first time around?) Even so, Alexandra is still an integral part of Prince Joachim's family, and she has attended white-tie events since the divorce wearing the tiara. Above, she wears the tiara during Queen Margrethe's ruby jubilee in 2012.

But even though the tiara is not currently in royal hands, it seems like that we've not seen the last of it at the Danish royal court. Alexandra’s two sons, Nikolai and Felix, are both princes of Denmark, so it seems quite likely that the Diamond Drop will return to their extended branch of the royal family eventually. Perhaps one day we’ll see one of their wives in this sparkling, shivering tiara?

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