21 July 2018

The King Edward VII Ruby Tiara

Queen Silvia of Sweden wears the ruby tiara on a state visit to Japan, March 2007 (EVERETT KENNEDY BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

Like so many of the Swedish royal family's jewels, their ruby tiara came to the Bernadottes in 1905 when Princess Margaret of Connaught married Prince Gustaf Adolf of Sweden. The tiara was a wedding present from Margaret’s uncle and aunt, King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra of the United Kingdom.

Gustaf Adolf and Margaret with their four eldest children, Gustaf Adolf, Sigvard, Ingrid, and Bertil, ca. 1912 (Wikimedia Commons)

Unfortunately, Margaret’s story has a tragic end — she never got to be queen of Sweden, as she died in 1920 of an infection after having operation. Her tiaras were dispersed between her children. Today, some are still with the Swedish royals, while others followed Margaret’s daughter, Ingrid, to Denmark. This particular tiara was inherited by Prince Sigvard, Margaret’s second son.

Sigvard Bernadotte, 1944 (Wikimedia Commons)

Sigvard was stripped of his royal title when he married a commoner, but the jewels left to him by his mother stayed with him. Two of his wives, Sonja and Marianne, both wore the tiara as a diadem and as a necklace.  But eventually Sigvard decided to sell the tiara. Conveniently, though, there was a royal buyer in the wings: Sigvard’s father, King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden.

Queen Silvia wears the tiara during a state visit to Japan, March 2007 (EVERETT KENNEDY BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

But there were problems with the sale. Sigvard claimed he’d only really loaned the tiara to his father, but Gustaf Adolf maintained the sale was legitimate. Possibly as a mea culpa, the king left the tiara to Sigvard’s son, Michael, when he died in 1973. But then, even though his father was still alive, Michael also sold the tiara — to the new king, Carl XVI Gustaf.

Queen Silvia wears the ruby tiara for Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark's 50th birthday party, May 2018 (Ole Jensen/Getty Images)

Sigvard lived until 2002, and although she brought it out very occasionally during his lifetime, Queen Silvia did not begin wearing the tiara regularly in public until after his death. Today she’s the primary wearer of the piece. Now that the ownership of this historic Connaught/Bernadotte piece has finally been settled, perhaps it’s time to place it in the family jewel foundation once and for all?

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