08 March 2018

Queen Maud's Diamond and Pearl Necklace

Queen Maud wears her diamond and pearl necklace, plus an additional riviere, with her diamond and pearl tiara

Most of the jewels that belonged to the super-stylish Queen Maud of Norway are well-documented, worn either by the reigning branch of the family or their close relatives. But today's piece, Maud's diamond and pearl necklace, is a major unsolved royal jewel mystery.

The Illustrated London News's depiction of Maud's wedding gifts, with the necklace at the top of the page

The provenance of the necklace isn't mysterious at all. It was one of the wedding gifts given to Princess Maud of Wales, daughter of King Edward VII of the United Kingdom, when she married her first cousin, Prince Carl of Denmark, in 1896. This illustrated list of her wedding gifts features the necklace right at the top of the page. It's labeled a "Diamond and Pearl Necklace, Convertible into a Tiara" and is noted as a gift from the "Royal Warrant Holders of England."

Prince Carl of Denmark (later King Haakon VII of Norway), Princess Maud, and Princess Victoria attend the Devonshire House Ball of 1897

Princess Maud began wearing the jewel shortly after her wedding. I believe that she may have worn the necklace on a coronet frame for the famed Devonshire House Ball, which celebrated her grandmother's Diamond Jubilee in 1897. Maud wears the teeny coronet in this portrait taken at the ball, and the profile and circumference of the piece seem to me to match the general specs of the necklace. With the photos we have, it's tough to say for certain.

Princess Maud wears the necklace, ca. 1901

We know for sure that she wore the necklace in this portrait, taken while she was in mourning for Queen Victoria in 1901. Here, she pairs the necklace with the Vifte Tiara and several other jewels, including the Drapers' Company Brooch.

Princess Maud dressed for her parents' coronation in 1902

I also think Maud may have worn the necklace at the coronation of her parents, King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, in 1902. I believe Maud may have used it on this occasion as a corsage ornament, stretching it across the neckline of her gown. Again, in this case, a clearer photo would provide a clearer answer.

Queen Maud wears the necklace at her own coronation in 1906

When Prince Carl was unexpectedly elected King of Norway in 1905, the jewel became part of Norway's new royal collection. The new Queen Maud wore the necklace at her coronation in Trondheim in 1906. The event was easily one of the jewel's most famous public appearances.

Queen Maud's coronation gown (with replica jewels) on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, February 2005 (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

But after that, the necklace seems to have vanished. I can find no other images of Maud wearing the piece, and no other images of any other Norwegian royal lady wearing it. Some have speculated that it may have been one of the jewels stolen at Garrard in the 1990s, but there don't appear to be images of Queen Sonja, Princess Ragnhild, or Princess Astrid wearing it before that time. It's quite a mystery. But in 2005, a replica of the necklace was produced for the major exhibit of Maud's clothing at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. It was put on display with Maud's coronation gown.

A close-up view of the replica necklace (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Here's a closer look at the replica necklace -- which makes it distressingly clear that it is a replica. The current status of the genuine necklace is one royal jewel mystery that I would love to have solved!