Our focus on the jewels of Princess Irene of the Netherlands, who celebrates her birthday today, continues with a glittering ’60s gala appearance. Almost two years after her controversial royal wedding, Irene was back in the Netherlands for the celebrations of the wedding of Princess Beatrix and Prince Claus. She sparkled in diamonds and rubies for a pre-wedding ball in March 1966.
On March 8, 1966, royals from across Europe attended a pre-wedding ball in honor of Princess Beatrix and her German fiancé at the Royal Palace in Amsterdam. Though less scandalous than Irene and Carlos Hugo’s nuptials two years earlier, this Dutch royal wedding wasn’t without controversy. The fact that Claus was German caused some consternation on the part of the Dutch people, who well remembered their treatment during World War II. During this ball, a smoke bomb was detonated outside the palace in Dam Square. No one was injured, and the ball continued as planned.
The presence of Princess Irene and Prince Carlos Hugo at the event reportedly caused tensions on more than one level. The Evening Standard reported that Princess Beatrix was “annoyed” at the attention her sister received during the wedding celebrations: “Irene, who left Holland in disgrace when she married against her parents’ wishes, has received a standing ovation from crowds everywhere…immaculately dressed, and very beautiful, she was proclaimed the star of last night’s Gala Ball.”
Carlos Hugo’s presence was potentially controversial on a diplomatic level. The guest list also included Prince Juan Carlos (son of the other claimant to the Spanish throne, the Count of Barcelona) and Princess Sofia of Spain. The wedding would mark the first time that the two men attended an official event together. Juan Carlos wasn’t present for the ball—Sofia attended with his sister, Infanta Pilar, instead—but he did come to the wedding. The two men were placed on opposite sides of the group photograph taken after the religious ceremony.
For the ball, Irene wore a glamorous gown with a feathered capelet. In her impressive ’60s hairstyle, she nestled the Bourbon-Parma Tiara. On this occasion, she swapped out the tiara’s central diamond for a ruby. She also wore her own ruby and diamond earrings.
Inside the palace, Irene’s tiara glittered on the dance floor. More than 400 guests attended the ball, which featured music from a swing band and an orchestra. Beatrix and Claus opened the dancing with a waltz, and the royals and their guests danced until the early hours of the following morning.