Just a few months after her attention-getting royal wedding, Princess Irene of the Netherlands made a diamond-studded splash in a sparkling tiara at a ball in Germany.
On November 6, 1964, Princess Irene and her new husband, Prince Carlos Hugo of Bourbon-Parma, arrived at a press ball in Bonn. The royal couple were invited to the event by a journalist from West Germany. They had indeed provided the press plenty of fodder over the past several months, marrying in controversial circumstances in Rome against the wishes of both Irene’s family and the Dutch government.
The throng of photographers capturing the couple’s every move as they danced during the ball suggests that the press still hadn’t gotten enough of the story. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Irene’s father, Prince Bernhard, was working to mend the breach in the family. He’d fly to Madrid shortly for a meeting with the couple.
But for the evening, Irene and Carlos Hugo were the toast of Bonn. She arrived for the event wearing a long gown encrusted with beads and sequins.
With her gown, Princess Irene wore the same diamond tiara she’d worn for her wedding that April. The Bourbon-Parma Tiara was made in 1884 for Prince Carlos Hugo’s grandmother, Infanta Maria Antonia of Portugal, the second wife of Prince Robert, Duke of Parma. The diamonds in the tiara, though, had a much longer royal history. They were originally set in a tiara that had belonged to the Duchess of Angoulême, the only surviving child of King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette of France.
Princess Irene wore the tiara often during her marriage, frequently nestled in elaborate hairstyles just like the one she wore for the ball in Bonn. But after the couple’s divorce, the tiara disappeared. In the mid-1990s, the tiara was entrusted to a French lawyer by Princess Cecilia Maria, one of Carlos Hugo’s sisters, during inheritance negotiations. When she went to retrieve the tiara, it was apparently nowhere to be found. A French court reportedly later awarded the family a settlement of around three million pounds to compensate for the lost tiara, which has not been seen since.
For this appearance, Princess Irene wore the tiara with a pair of modern diamond and pearl drop earrings.
She also pinned a small diamond cluster brooch to her gown. It’s tough to tell in black and white what the color of the center stone is, but I’d wager that it’s a ruby—perhaps part of the Ruby Peacock set?