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The Belgian Scroll Tiara is one of the loveliest jewels in Luxembourg’s vaults, but it narrowly escaped the auction block only a few years ago.
When Princess Joséphine-Charlotte of Belgium married Hereditary Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg in 1953, she brought a considerable number of jewels with her to her new country, including several wedding gifts. Joséphine-Charlotte chose to wear this new tiara, which was among that collection, in some of her wedding portraits. (For the wedding ceremony, she wore the Congo Necklace Tiara.)
In the image above, Joséphine-Charlotte wears the tiara during a visit to the Vatican. The tiara, which is made of diamonds set in platinum, was made by Henry Coosemans in the same year that Joséphine-Charlotte married. The diamonds were all sourced from the Belgian Congo, which had not yet been granted independence; the same is true for some of the other diamond gifts that Joséphine-Charlotte received. The was given to the princess by the Société Générale, a French bank. The largest central diamond is detachable and can also be worn as a ring.
Joséphine-Charlotte’s husband became Grand Duke Jean when her mother-in-law, Charlotte, abdicated in 1964. Joséphine-Charlotte wore the tiara during part of the abdication ceremonies, as you can see in the (fuzzy) moving image above. (Charlotte wore the enormous Empire Tiara for the occasion.)
Joséphine-Charlotte also wore the tiara when she and Jean hosted the British royals for a glittering state visit in 1976. Indeed, she continued to wear this tiara almost exclusively until her death in 2005, although she did lend it to one of her daughters-in-law, Princess Sibilla, on more than one occasion.
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After Joséphine-Charlotte died, the tiara almost left the family for good. Her children planned to sell a good deal of the late grand duchess’s jewelry collection, including this tiara. However, public outcry led to the cancellation of the sale, and this tiara was kept in the family’s vaults. (Sadly, other pieces did end up on the auction block eventually.) Today, Maria Teresa wears the tiara occasionally, especially during state visits. Above, she wears the tiara during a state visit to Norway in 2011.
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One of her most recent appearances in the tiara also came in Norway, during the celebrations for King Harald and Queen Sonja’s 80th birthdays in May 2017.