This is a week filled with royal birthdays! Today, Princess Irene, aunt of the King of the Netherlands, celebrates her 83rd birthday. In her honor, we’re devoting today’s article to a look at the way she has worn the Ruby Peacock Parure.
This fascinating Art Nouveau parure, inspired by peacock tail design motifs, was made in the 1890s for Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands. Around half a century later, she gave the suite of jewels to her granddaughter, Princess Irene. The set is versatile and features numerous pieces, and Irene clearly enjoyed experimenting with the jewels in the years after she received them. Here, during a state visit from the Shah of Iran to the Netherlands in May 1959, Irene wears the tiara and brooch from the suite, as well as a portion of the necklace with a ruby cluster pendant.
Here’s another view of Irene wears the jewels during the Iranian state visit. You’ll spot the bracelet from the parure on her right wrist. (Beside Irene, her sister, Princess Beatrix, wears Queen Emma’s Diamond Tiara and the family’s Diamond Festoon Necklace.)
Beatrix and Irene are also pictured together here during a state visit from King Baudouin of the Belgians a few weeks later, in July 1959. Beatrix wears Queen Juliana’s aquamarines, while Irene again wears parts of the Ruby Peacock Parure, plus a pair of diamond and ruby earrings that come from her personal jewelry box.
Here’s a clearer view of Irene’s jewelry from the Belgian state visit. She wears the aigrette ornament from the set, which is set on a thin gold band, plus the brooch from the suite.
In April 1962, royals from around the world arrived in the Netherlands to celebrate Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard’s silver wedding anniversary. In this close-up from the event’s group photograph, you’ll spot Princess Irene wearing the tiara from the Ruby Peacock Parure. She’s standing behind Farah Pahlavi, then the Queen of Iran, who is wearing a suite of emerald jewels.
Irene continued to wear the parure for family-related gala events in the 1960s, even after her controversial marriage stripped her of her succession rights. Here, she wears the tiara and brooch with her diamond and ruby earrings for a government dinner held ahead of the wedding of her sister, Princess Margriet, in January 1967.
And a few days later, Princess Irene wore pieces from the parure—the tiara and a smaller setting of the necklace, plus her personal diamond and ruby earrings—once again for a family dinner, this time to celebrate the 30th wedding anniversary of her parents, Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard.
For years, it was speculated that Irene sold the Ruby Peacock Parure in the 1970s. But in recent years, pieces from the set have reemerged on other members of the royal family, notably Queen Máxima and Princess Beatrix. We don’t exactly know what arrangement has brought the jewels back to the royal vaults—a sale? a loan? something else? But it’s great to see the peacock jewels sparkling once more, no matter their path.