28 March 2020

The Wurttemberg Ornate Pearl Tiara

Beatrix wears the tiara, 2013 (Pool/Getty Images)

As March draws to a close, we've got a closer look today at a tiara worn by a famous royal March bride: the W├╝rttemberg Ornate Pearl Tiara.

Wilhelmina wears the tiara, 1898 (Grand Ladies Site)

The Ornate Pearl Tiara was created for the young Queen Wilhelmina in 1897, a year ahead of her enthronement festivities. The piece, which is set with diamonds, 35 round pearls, and 11 pear-shaped pearls, was likely made by Royal Van Kempen en Begeer. Some have speculated that the tiara was actually a remodeled version of a diamond and pearl tiara from the collection of Queen Sophie, possibly an unseen diamond and pearl tiara inherited by her son, Prince Alexander. That's why the tiara is generally known as the "W├╝rttemberg Ornate Pearl Tiara" -- even though the connection between Queen Wilhelmina's tiara and that earlier piece has never been firmly established.

Beatrix wears the tiara, 2004 (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

The 1897 tiara can be worn in four separate settings. Setting #1 includes all eleven of the pear-shaped pearls attached to the top of the tiara in two rows: five pearls on the highest elements and six pearls on the lower ones. Setting #2 features just the 5 pear-shaped pearls on the highest elements. Setting #3 features just the 6 pear-shaped pearls on the lower elements. Setting #4 is just the tiara without any of the pear-shaped pearl toppers -- this is the setting shown in the photo above.

A portrait of Wilhelmina wearing the tiara is featured on a Dutch postage stamp

In 1898, Queen Wilhelmina wore setting #2 of the tiara for some of her first official portraits as queen. One of the portraits from the session was featured on a stamp used throughout the first quarter of the twentieth century in the Netherlands. The tiara was apparently not a great favorite of Wilhelmina's; these appear to be some of the only images available that feature her wearing the piece.

Juliana wears the tiara in London, 1950 (BNA Photographic/Alamy)

After her abdication in 1948, the tiara was worn by Wilhelmina's daughter, the new Queen Juliana. She chose the piece for numerous important occasions, including state visits to the United Kingdom and Denmark. (She's wearing setting #1 of the tiara in London in 1950 in the photograph above.) In the 1960s, Juliana decided to place the family's  jewelry collection in a family foundation, ensuring that it cannot be sold and will not leave the family through marriage or inheritance. The pearl tiara is one of the pieces in that foundation.

Beatrix wears the tiara on her wedding day, 1966 (Anefo/Nationaal Archief/Wikimedia Commons)

In the 1960s, the tiara also found a new wearer. Princess Beatrix, Juliana's eldest daughter, wore setting #1 of the tiara with her bridal veil when she married Claus van Amsberg in March 1966. The embroidery on her gown was designed specifically to mirror the intricate design of the tiara.

Beatrix wears the tiara at the Danish royal wedding, 2004 (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Beatrix wore the pearl tiara for state occasions during her mother's reign, as well as her own, which began in 1980. She generally preferred to wear setting #4 of the tiara for these gala events. She also memorably wore setting #4 of the tiara for the wedding of Crown Prince Frederick and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark in 2004.

Beatrix wears the tiara, 2013 (Robin Utrecht - Pool/Getty Images)

After more than three decades on the Dutch throne, Beatrix abdicated in favor of her son, Willem-Alexander, in 2013. At a gala dinner held the night before the abdication, Beatrix wore setting #2 of the tiara.

Maxima wears the tiara in Japan, 2014 (SHIZUO KAMBAYASHI/AFP via Getty Images)

Since Beatrix's abdication, the tiara has been worn several times by her daughter-in-law, Queen Maxima. She has also preferred setting #4 of the tiara, wearing it for diplomatic occasions like the 2014 state visit to Japan.

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