06 August 2016

The Brazilian Tiara

The Braganza, or Brazilian, Tiara (Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

With the world's eyes on the Olympic Games in Rio, what better way to celebrate than by looking at a tiara once worn by a Brazilian empress? Today, Brazil is a republic, but from 1822-1889, the nation was the independent Empire of Brazil. Here's how their grandest tiara -- the Braganza, or Brazilian, Tiara -- made its way from Rio to ... Stockholm!?

Jean-Baptiste Debret's portrait of the marriage of Pedro I and Amélie of Leuchtenberg (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

In 1822, Emperor Pedro I of the Portuguese House of Braganza was crowned in Brazil. Four years later, Pedro's empress, Maria Leopoldina of Austria, died in Rio de Janeiro. By 1829, Pedro was married again. This time, his wife was Princess Amélie of Leuchtenberg, a granddaughter of both King Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria and Empress Joséphine of France.

Queen Silvia wears the tiara in 2006 (Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

As Brazil's empress, Amélie's jewelry box included a stunning set of diamonds. Among these was a wedding gift from her new husband: an enormous diamond diadem composed of flowers and leaves. The tiara was new, but the diamonds weren't. They'd actually belonged to Pedro's first wife, Maria Leopoldina, and had been acquired by Pedro from their children. The tiara itself was reportedly made in France, but Amélie herself apparently stated that the diamonds were sourced from Brazil.

Queen Sofia wears the tiara, ca. 1902 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Amélie wasn't Brazil's empress for long. In 1831, her husband abdicated, and the two of them settled first in Paris and then in Lisbon, where Pedro died. Amélie kept her diamonds throughout all of this upheaval, and when she died in 1873, the tiara and its accompanying necklace, earrings, and brooch were left to her closest living family member: her sister, Queen Josefina of Sweden and Norway.

Queen Victoria wears the tiara (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Historian Trond Norén Isaksen has carefully tracked the tiara's journey from Portugal to Sweden, noting that the diamonds were "shipped to Kristiansand in Norway onboard the Norwegian naval corvette Balder and from there to Stockholm," where they were delivered to Queen Josefina. But sadly, Josefina died only three years later. Her daughter-in-law, Queen Sofia, was the Brazilian tiara's next wearer, and it has been worn by all subsequent Swedish queens, including Queen Victoria, Queen Louise, and the tiara's current wearer, Queen Silvia.

Queen Silvia wears the tiara at Victoria's wedding in 2010 (Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

The Brazilian Tiara is especially perfect for Silvia, not only because it’s a tiara befitting a queen but also because Silvia’s mother, Alice de Toledo, was born in Brazil. Silvia wore the tiara for one of her first portraits as queen, and in 2010, she chose the tiara for one of the most important Swedish royal events of the 21st century: the wedding of her daughter, Crown Princess Victoria.

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