For our final November birthday tiara tribute of the week, we’re dipping into the historical archives! Here’s a look at the tiara and jewels worn by Queen Maud of Norway, who was born in November 1869, for an iconic photograph session more than a century ago.
Queen Maud posed for these portraits in 1905, the same year that her husband was elected King of Norway. Maud was the youngest daughter of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra of the United Kingdom, and in 1896, she had married a cousin, Prince Carl of Denmark. Since then, they’d largely been dividing their time between Denmark and England. When Norway decided to end their union with Sweden and elect a new monarch, Carl accepted the job of king. (It didn’t hurt that his father-in-law was the British king, and his father was heir to the Danish throne.) Carl changed his name to Haakon, their son Alexander changed his name to Olav, and the couple were enthroned in 1906.
Suddenly, Maud went from life as a relatively minor member of a pair of royal families to the role of Queen of Norway. Thankfully, her jewelry box already contained several pieces of important jewelry, which were definitely fit for a queen. The collection included this diamond and pearl tiara, which had been a wedding gift from her parents. It could be worn in the setting shown here, as well as in a smaller, fringe-like version. Maud loved to wear the tiara with the diamond and pearl scroll brooch that’s pinned to her bodice in these photographs. It was one of her wedding gifts as well, a present from the Drapers Company.
For this portrait session, Maud wore a gorgeous, intricate gown decorated with sequins. She emphasized her long neck with a tall diamond choker necklace, a style of jewel that had been popularized by her mother, Queen Alexandra. She layered another diamond riviere below the grand choker, and finished off the look with a long diamond sautoir, another style of jewel that also very fashionable during this period.
The photos during this session captured a royal woman who had just become a queen, and who was very much a part of contemporary conversation around Europe. It’s no surprise, then, that images from the photoshoot were sold as postcards and rendered as illustrations in newspapers. One picture was also reimagined as a miniature painting, shown above.
The diamond and pearl tiara worn by Maud in these photos had an interesting royal journey. When Maud died, the tiara wasn’t in Norway; she had taken her jewels with her to England for a visit in 1938, and unexpectedly died there. The jewels remained in the UK for more than a decade, and they were even kept safe at Windsor Castle during the war. Eventually, the tiara was reunited with Maud’s descendants—but in 1995, it vanished from the map for good. The Norwegian royals had sent the jewel to Garrard in London to be cleaned, and while it was there, the firm’s workshop was burglarized. The tiara was stolen, and it has never been recovered. As an apology, Garrard made an exact replica, which is now worn by the ladies of the royal family in Norway today.