|King Alfonso XIII and Queen Ena of Spain (Photo: Grand Ladies Site)|
Queen Maria Cristina was a formidable figure; she’d been born a Habsburg archduchess, and after she was widowed, she acted as regent in Spain for her young son. And she wasn’t pleased initially with Alfonso’s choice of bride -- she wanted him to marry a Habsburg cousin, and besides that, she didn’t consider the Battenbergs royal enough for the family. (Joke’s on her -- there’s now a Battenberg descendant on the throne of Spain, a Battenberg princess was once queen consort of Sweden, and in the next generation, there will be a Battenberg descendant on the throne of the United Kingdom, too.)
Eventually Maria Cristina relented, and Alfonso and Ena were allowed to wed. Perhaps this tiara, which was part of a larger pearl and diamond parure, was meant to be a peace offering. But if it was, its effects are dubious. Ena was never photographed wearing it; indeed, the only photo (linked above) of the tiara I’ve been able to track down is from the record of Ena’s wedding gifts. Clearly it was not one of Ena's beloved pieces of jewelry.
The lack of photographs is for good reason: the tiara didn't last long in its original form. Instead, Ena decided to reimagine the piece. While the original tiara was made by Ansorena, Cartier was tasked by Queen Ena in the 1920s with taking apart the old sparkler and refashioning parts of it into this new piece. The Cartier version of the tiara is made of diamonds set in platinum, with eight large pearls set in the center of each of the large scrolling diamond elements on either side of the piece. The scrolls themselves are designed to look like coiling sprigs of laurel.
Originally, the pearls in the tiara could also be replaced with emeralds; Ena frequently wore the tiara with emeralds and paired it with other pieces of emerald jewelry, some of them inherited from Empress Eugenie of France. (Sadly, Ena's emeralds were reportedly sold sometime after the family's exile.) Ena also sometimes added an additional pearl button to the very top of the tiara.
|Queen Sofia wears the tiara (Photo: Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images)|
|Infanta Cristina wears the tiara (Photo: ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images)|
|Queen Sofia wears the tiara (Photo: SVEN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images)|