Tomorrow, Crown Princess Mary of Denmark celebrates her 50th birthday. The Danish royal court has already kicked off the celebrations, publishing a new set of gala portraits of Frederik and Mary for the occasion. Here’s a look at the gorgeous images—and the story behind Mary’s fantastic tiara and jewels.
Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary look elegant and glamorous in this new set of official gala portraits, which were taken by Hasse Nielsen and published by the royal court. The images were taken to celebrate Mary’s upcoming 50th birthday, which takes place on Saturday, February 5.
In the new pictures, Frederik wears full military dress uniform, while Mary wears a gorgeous light blue evening gown covered in sparkling crystals. The color of the gown works beautifully with the sash of the order worn by both of them: the Order of the Elephant, Denmark’s highest chivalric decoration.
With her gown and orders, Mary wore the most important set of jewelry in her collection. These are the Danish Rubies, a tiara and a coordinating parure set with diamonds and rubies. The jewels were originally made in France in 1804. Their first owner was Désirée Clary, the former fiancée of Napoleon Bonaparte who had ultimately married one of his marshals, Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte.
Napoleon provided funds for each of his marshals to buy grand suites of jewels for their wives to wear at his imperial coronation at Notre Dame in December 1804. Désirée wore these rubies as she followed Empress Joséphine in the coronation procession, carrying the new empress’s veil and handkerchief on a pillow.
In a twist of fate, Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte was later elected King of Sweden, and the rubies became royal jewels. In 1869, when Princess Lovisa of Sweden married the future King Frederik VIII of Denmark, she received the rubies as a wedding present. They’ve been part of the Danish collection ever since. During Queen Alexandrine’s tenure, the hair ornaments from the set were fashioned into a tiara.
Queen Ingrid later upgraded the piece into a larger wreath tiara, which is now worn by Crown Princess Mary. For these portraits, Mary wore the tiara with the small setting of the parure’s earrings. She used the brooch from the suite to secure her order sash, and she also wore the ruby and diamond bracelet and ruby and diamond cluster ring.
Interestingly, though, the owner of the rubies isn’t technically Crown Princess Mary: it’s Crown Prince Frederik! When his grandmother, Queen Ingrid, passed away in 2000, she left the rubies to Frederik, hoping that they would one day be worn by his future wife. The rest of the world didn’t know then that Frederik had met the woman who would become his wife a few months earlier. Crown Princess Mary has been wearing the rubies since 2004, debuting them at a pair of galas held before their royal wedding that May.