All this month, we’re going to be taking a closer look at some of the jewels of Princess Margaret of Connaught, the vivacious British princess who later became Crown Princess of Sweden. Let’s begin with an accessory she wore throughout her life: gleaming royal pearls.
As a true Edwardian princess—granddaughter of Queen Victoria and niece of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra—many of Margaret’s signature jewelry pieces were set with pearls. She wore pearls on brooches, earrings, rings, and in long strands around her neck. The postcard above shows Margaret wearing a single strand necklace long enough for her to wrap it around her left thumb. She also wears pearl earrings, and she appears to wear a pearl ring on her right hand, possibly the one given to her as a wedding gift by her brother and sister, Prince Arthur and Princess Patricia of Connaught.
Princess Margaret also received other pearl jewels at the time of her royal wedding in 1905; they included a diamond and pearl brooch from Empress Eugenie of France, a long necklace of rubies, pearls, and diamonds from the Duchess of Argyll, and a pearl necklace with sapphire drops from Princess Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein. She also received an additional diamond and pearl chain from “Mr. P. Ralli” (likely Pandia Ralli, the wealthy merchant of Greek descent who lived at Ashtead Park in Surrey).
In June 1905, Princess Margaret married Prince Gustaf Adolf, grandson of the King of Sweden. On their wedding day, she was bedecked in flowers rather than tons of glittering jewels, but she did choose a long strand of pearls, looped once about her throat, to adorn her wedding dress.
Indeed, Margaret had worn pearls for years before her wedding, and was often depicted wearing a single-stranded, shorter pearl necklace as a young princess. Three-year-old Princess Margaret was depicted wearing a delicate gold and pearl necklace in a portrait commissioned by her grandmother, Queen Victoria, in 1885.
Fourteen years later, Queen Victoria ordered a second portrait of seventeen-year-old Margaret, this time wearing a pearl necklace and a diamond and pearl brooch. The portrait was completed by Heinrich von Angeli in 1899.
Even though she had access to magnificent diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and aquamarines as Sweden’s crown princess—she’s wearing both the Connaught Diamond Tiara and the Khedive of Egypt Tiara (as a corsage ornament) with pearls here—Margaret was frequently photographed in simple pearl jewelry instead. It’s difficult to say exactly where Margaret’s pearls are today. She died suddenly in 1920 at the age of thirty-eight, following complications after surgery. The jewel inheritance of her more striking pieces, including her tiaras and intricate necklaces, have been well-documented, but the fate of everyday jewels like her pearls has been discussed far less.
We know that Margaret’s only daughter, Queen Ingrid of Denmark, wore pearls throughout her lifetime. Some of those pearls came from the Danish royal collection, but it’s almost certain that some of the long strands she wore in ropes around her neck originally came from her mother’s jewelry box.
Those pearls today are worn by another Margaret — her granddaughter, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark. She wears the pearls here at the christening of her own granddaughter, Princess Isabella, in 2007, along with diamond and ruby earrings that also once belonged to Crown Princess Margareta.