Happy Birthday to Queen Silvia of Sweden! To celebrate her big day, we’re looking at the way she’s worn one of Sweden’s most magnificent jewels, the Braganza Tiara, over the years.
In 2020, art historian Göran Alm called this tiara the most important piece of jewelry in the Swedish royal vault. The enormous diamond floral tiara now resides in Stockholm, but it came to the Bernadottes via royal relatives in Brazil. Emperor Pedro I gave the jewel to his second wife, Princess Amelie of Leuchtenberg. (The tiara takes its name from the House of Braganza, the dynasty that reigned in Portugal and Brazil.) When she died, Amelie bequeathed the tiara to her sister, Queen Josefina of Sweden. It’s been part of the Swedish royal collection ever since.
For Queen Silvia, the connection to Brazil must make this tiara particularly special. Her mother, Alice Soares de Toledo, was born and raised in São Paulo. From the age of four until she was about fourteen, Silvia lived in Brazil with her parents and siblings. She speaks fluent Portuguese (and is also fluent in several other languages, including German, Swedish, French, Spanish, and English).
In October 1976, shortly after marring King Carl XVI Gustaf and becoming Queen of Sweden, Silvia wore the Braganza Tiara for her first official portrait. The portrait session gave her an early sense of just how complicated the heavy, cumbersome tiara was to wear, a story she told to great effect in the recent Swedish royal jewelry documentary, Kungliga Smycken. For the portrait, she paired the tiara with the Karl Johan Earrings and the Russian Pink Topaz Suite.
Mindful of the importance of the tiara, Queen Silvia has generally reserved it for very special occasions: official portraits, important state banquets, and milestone family celebrations. Above, she wears the tiara for a state banquet at the Royal Palace in Stockholm during a state visit from Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and the Duke of Edinburgh in May 1983. She wore the tiara with additional diamonds, including the family’s enormous pear-shaped diamond drop earrings, a diamond necklace with a pear-shaped pendant, and the large oval diamond brooch.
In April 2006, she wore the tiara for a special birthday celebration in Stockholm: a gala dinner to mark the 60th birthday of her husband, King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden.
She wore the tiara with a bold green dress for the birthday party, as well as additional diamonds from the family vaults: diamond floral earrings, a diamond floral brooch, and a diamond necklace with a pear-shaped pendant.
In May 2007, Queen Silvia did something very unusual: she took the Braganza Tiara with her on a foreign trip. The tiara has rarely left Sweden, so this was a significant moment indeed. She chose it specifically for a state banquet during the Swedish state visit to Denmark, pairing it with the large pear-shaped earrings, the pink topazes, and one of the family’s elaborate diamond bracelets. The visit was a special one: Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden are first cousins, both grandchildren of King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden.
In an interview done for the documentary De Kongelige Juveler, Silvia explained why she decided to bring the Braganza to Copenhagen. “Wearing it in Denmark, that was a very special occasion. We are so close, not only friends but also family-wise. So, that’s why.” She added, “I was thinking, ‘What should I wear? What would Queen Margrethe like to see?’ All those tiaras, of course, are very well known to her. So I thought the Brazilian diadem is perhaps unique. So then I thought, you know, queen to queen, I thought it would be nice to wear it.”
In June 2010, Queen Silvia wore the Braganza Tiara for another very important moment: the wedding of her elder daughter, Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden. She again paired the tiara with the magnificent pink topaz demi-parure for the occasion. This royal wedding, which took place more than a decade ago, was one of the most recent appearances for the tiara. Its weight may make it prohibitively uncomfortable for Silvia to wear these days. As it’s such an important jewel, I think we’ll see Crown Princess Victoria wait to wear it until after she becomes Queen of Sweden at some point in the future.