Most of the senior royal ladies in Europe have multiple tiaras at their disposal, some of them personally owned, some of them loaners from the royal vaults. Until her husband’s accession to the throne, however, Queen Mathilde of the Belgians only had one tiara in her personal jewel box: her diamond laurel wreath.
The laurel wreath is a classic tiara shape, and most royal families have at least one in their collection. But Mathilde’s tiara isn’t from the Belgian vaults—this one is her personal property. The laurel wreath was given to Mathilde by a group of Belgian aristocrats as a wedding present in 1999, when she married Prince Philippe, Duke of Brabant. It was an especially fitting present, as Mathilde was born a member of Belgian nobility. In 2013, in fact, she became the first-ever Queen of the Belgians to actually have been born a Belgian.
But even though the tiara is relatively new to Mathilde, it’s still an antique. It was made by Hennel & Sons, an English firm, in 1912. Since it’s the only tiara that Mathilde personally owns, it’s lucky that it can also be worn as a necklace—two for one, if you will. Above, she wears it in its necklace setting (with the Wolfers Tiara and Queen Fabiola’s Pearl Drop Earrings) during an official visit to Poland in October 2015.
Beyond converting to a necklace, the tiara appears to be even more adaptable. Mathilde usually wears the tiara on a frame that sets it fairly high on her head. However, Mathilde has also worn the tiara closer to her head, suggesting that either the tiara can be positioned differently on the same frame or the piece came with more than one frame.
Queen Mathilde has worn the laurel wreath for numerous important royal occasions over the years, including several more glittering royal wedding celebrations. Above, she wears the tiara for the wedding of Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark in Copenhagen in May 2004.
She also chose the tiara for the grand royal wedding of Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel of Sweden in Stockholm in June 2010.
Mathilde memorably wore the piece as a necklace at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at Westminster Abbey in London in April 2011.
The tiara made an appearance at a second royal wedding in 2011 when Mathilde wore it for the reception following the wedding of the Prince and Princess of Monaco.
And here, she wears the laurel wreath for a gala held the night before the wedding of Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stephanie of Luxembourg in October 2012.
She’s also chosen the tiara for numerous state visits and diplomatic occasions, both before and after her husband’s accession. Above, she wears the tiara during the Norwegian state visit to Belgium in May 2003. (She was expecting Prince Gabriel at the time.)
She also wore the tiara for a banquet held during the President of Poland’s state visit to Belgium in October 2004.
In June 2006, she wore the tiara during the King of Thailand’s glittering Diamond Jubilee celebrations in Bangkok.
Just a few weeks later, she wore the tiara again for a banquet held during a state visit from the Dutch royal family to Brussels.
A few years later, Mathilde wore the tiara during another important Dutch royal celebration: the festivities surrounding the abdication of Queen Beatrix and the inauguration of King Willem-Alexander in Amsterdam in April 2013.
Mathilde became Queen of the Belgians on July 21, 2013, and she’s continued to wear the laurel wreath occasionally in the years since, both as a tiara and a necklace. Here, she wears it during a state visit from the President of Germany in 2016.