20 July 2019

Princess Madeleine's Modern Fringe Tiara

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The Swedish royal family's royal jewelry treasures largely reside in the family's jewel foundation, which cleverly ensures that the collection remains intact as it travels through time. But some of their tiaras, including today's sparkling diamond fringe, are personal possessions.

Queen Silvia wears the tiara in Denmark, 2010 (Patrick van Katwijk/DPA Picture Alliance Archive/Alamy)

The diamond tiara first appeared on Queen Silvia in the late 1980s. Thanks to the timing -- she and King Carl XVI Gustaf celebrated their tenth wedding anniversary in 1986 -- many have speculated that the tiara may have been an anniversary present from the king to his queen consort. Regardless of the occasion, the court has always maintained that this is a "private" tiara, personally owned rather than part of the grand royal jewel foundation.

Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

We sadly don't have any clear information about where or when the tiara was made. The internet christened it the "Modern Fringe Tiara" -- both because it was a newer addition to the Bernadotte family tiara arsenal and because its fringes aren't the typical shape for a tiara of the type. Rather than simple vertical spikes, or slightly tapered "sunray" spikes, this tiara features geometric fringe pieces that resemble stylized fleur-de-lis elements. Each large spike also has three diamonds radiating from its peak: two smaller circular diamonds extending from each side, and one large round diamond affixed to the top of the fringe.

The Countess of Tankerville wears a very similar tiara, 1902

The innovative tiara, though, may be far older than the "modern" label would make it seem. Posters at the Royal Jewels of the World Message Board unearthed a photo of a very, very similar tiara, worn by Lady Tankerville at the coronation of King Edward VII in 1902. The existence of the image raises a pair of (equally likely, but both speculative) possibilities: either the Tankerville tiara is the same one now worn by the Swedish royals, or more than one of this type of tiara was made around the turn of the last century. With no additional provenance information provided by the Swedish royal court, we simply don't know which is the case!

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

When worn as a tiara, the piece has a rather unusual frame. It is mounted on a base that make the tiara appear to hover, halo-like, above the wearer's head. But, like many fringe tiaras, this one is convertible, and the tiara often pops up at royal occasions as a necklace. (One of the only times Crown Princess Victoria has worn the piece, in fact, was an outing as a necklace at the Palace of Versailles in 2002.)

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In fact, the last time the piece was publicly worn by Queen Silvia, it was in necklace form -- during Queen Margrethe II's Ruby Jubilee celebrations in January 2012.

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Over the years, the tiara has been worn with increasing frequency by Silvia's younger daughter, Madeleine. She's made numerous appearances in the tiara, both in necklace and in tiara form, at state banquets, at the annual Nobel Prize ceremony, and at royal weddings.


She chose the necklace version for the concert held the night before Crown Princess Victoria's wedding in June 2010.

Torsten Laursen/Getty Images

And she even surprised many royal watchers by eschewing the traditional Cameo Tiara and wearing this tiara at her wedding to Christopher O'Neill in June 2013. On that particular occasion, she embellished the piece by covering the floating base of the tiara with orange blossoms.

Images from the exhibition guide, generously provided by @Hovikirjeenvaih

While the Swedish royal court sometimes provides tantalizing tidbits of jewel history to coincide with major occasions like royal weddings, we sadly learned little new information about the fringe on the day -- the wedding press release from the court still described the piece only as "privately owned." But a few years later, at an exhibition of Swedish royal wedding ensembles, we finally learned that the tiara now officially belongs to Madeleine. The official guide to the exhibition clearly states that the tiara was a "gift from the King and Queen" to Madeleine.

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

The guide didn't elaborate, but I think it's very likely, given the timing, that the tiara was Madeleine's wedding present from her parents. She's continued to wear the tiara very regularly since. I think we can expect to see Madeleine continue to wear this tiara at royal events in the years to come. A classic, convertible piece like this is an asset to the jewel collection of a younger royal daughter -- and it will also be perfect one day for Princess Leonore and Princess Adrienne to wear at events when their Aunt Victoria and Cousin Estelle reign in Sweden.

Note: This is an updated and expanded version of an earlier post.