With a new princess arriving this week in the United Kingdom, speculation about the jewels she might wear one day has already begun. (Yes, I’m guilty of this, too!) As I dream one day of seeing Princess Charlotte wear her great-great-grandmother’s Strathmore Rose Tiara, let’s have a look at some of the first tiaras worn by European princesses.
The question of which tiara a princess wore first is a bit more difficult to pin down in Britain, where the ladies of the family don tiaras at private events — like holiday dinners at Sandringham — probably long before we see them wear tiaras in public. I believe the first tiara we saw Queen Elizabeth II wear in public was Queen Mary’s Fringe Tiara, which she borrowed for her wedding day. But we know that she received the Cartier Halo Tiara as an eighteenth-birthday gift from her mother, so she may well have worn that one first.
Other ladies in the family certainly wore the Halo early on: it’s probably the first tiara that Princess Margaret wore, and it’s the one she wore for her sister’s coronation in 1953. It’s also probably the first tiara worn by Princess Anne, who donned it before she started wearing her grandmother’s meander tiara. And, of course, it’s the first tiara we saw the Duchess of Cambridge wear, as she chose it for her wedding day.
But what about the other ladies of the family? Diana, Princess of Wales wore the Spencer Tiara at her wedding, and it’s a safe bet that family diadem was her first tiara. Ditto Sarah, Duchess of York and her diamond wedding tiara; the Countess of Wessex’s wedding tiara was probably her first sparkler, too.
The Scandinavian monarchs have a tradition of giving tiaras to princesses on their eighteenth birthdays. Crown Princess Victoria’s small sapphire and diamond birthday tiara was her very first, as was Princess Madeleine’s vintage diamond and aquamarine bandeau. The first tiara worn in public by their mother, Queen Silvia, was the Connaught Diamond Tiara, which she wore at the gala held the night before her wedding.
The Danes also give out eighteenth-birthday gift tiaras. Queen Margrethe II received the Alexandrine Diamond Drop Tiara as her first sparkler; years later, her daughter-in-law, Alexandra, would also wear the Diamond Drop as her first tiara. Both of the Queen’s younger sisters, Princess Benedikte of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg and Queen Anne-Marie of Greece, received floral tiaras. The first tiara worn by Crown Princess Mary wasn’t her diamond wedding tiara but the magnificent tiara from Desiree Clary’s ruby parure. But Princess Marie did wear her wedding tiara, Princess Dagmar’s Floral Tiara, as her very first sparkler.
Eighteenth-birthday gifts are also the royal norm in Norway. Princess Martha Louise was given hers by her grandfather — hence its usual name, King Olav’s Gift Tiara. Crown Princess Mette-Marit wore her first tiara, her small diamond daisy bandeau, on her wedding day.
The present queen, Mathilde, wore her first tiara on her wedding day: the diamond art deco bandeau borrowed from her mother-in-law, Queen Paola. (The same tiara was also a first tiara for Prince Amedeo’s wife, Lili.) Queen Mathilde’s sister-in-law, Princess Claire, also wore a small diamond tiara for the first time on her wedding day. The king’s sister, Princess Astrid, has only ever apparently worn tiaras owned by her husband’s family; the first one seems to have been the diamond Savoy-Aosta Tiara.
Queen Maxima, that innovative wearer of tiaras, wore a tiara for the first time at someone else’s royal wedding: the nuptials of Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway. She wore the base of the family’s Antique Pearl Tiara on the occasion.
On the night before her wedding, Queen Sofia of Spain actually wore two tiaras — the Mellerio Shell Tiara, plus the Spanish Floral Tiara as a necklace. The next day, she wore the Prussian Tiara at her wedding — the same tiara her daughter-in-law, Queen Letizia, wore as her first tiara on her own wedding day forty years later.
In Luxembourg, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa wore her first tiara — the Congo Diamond Necklace Tiara — on her wedding day. Her daughter-in-law, Hereditary Grand Duchess Stephanie, donned the family’s Vine Leaves Tiara on the night before her wedding. It’s also the first tiara worn by Princess Claire, who wore it at her wedding to Prince Felix. Princess Alexandra appears to have worn the family’s small floral tiara as her first sparkler, while Princess Tessy seems to have made her tiara debut in the family’s small turquoise tiara.
In Monaco, Princess Grace’s first tiara was probably the Bains de Mer Tiara, which she recevied as a wedding gift and wore shortly after her wedding. Princess Caroline seems to have worn a tiara for the first time in public on the eve of her wedding, when she borrowed her mother’s Diamond Wave Tiara. Princess Charlene donned the Baumer Aigrette in public for the first time at her wedding reception, while Tatiana Casiraghi stunned in a diamond fringe tiara at her own religious wedding ceremony. As for two of the most glamorous ladies in the principality — Princess Stephanie and Charlotte Casiraghi — they seem to have never been photographed in public wearing a tiara at all.