Today in the United States where I live, it’s Mother’s Day. What better way to celebrate that holiday than a look at a lovely necklace treasured by three generations of royal mothers and daughters: Princess Margaret of Connaught’s Wedding Pearls.
On June 15, 1905, Princess Margaret of Connaught—granddaughter of Queen Victoria, niece of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra—married the future King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden in a sparkling ceremony at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor. The jewelry she wore that day was minimal, as most of the adornment on her ensemble was made up of lace and flowers, but she did add a long string of pearls with a small ruby clasp to her dress. She looped the pearls once around her neck and let the rest of the long necklace flow down the front of her gown.
When I say that the necklace was long, I mean that it was long. A whopping 332 freshwater pearls are strung on the necklace, which was made at some unknown point before the 1905 wedding. In this photograph, from the big display of jewels at Amalienborg last year, you can see just how impressively lengthy the necklace is. You can also catch a glimpse of the little ruby-set clasp.
Margaret became Crown Princess of Sweden in December 1907. For the next decade, she was often photographed wearing long strands of pearls, likely the same ones she wore on her wedding day. She’s often pictured fidgeting with the pearls, wrapping them around her fingers as she poses for the photographer.
This is one of the last portraits of Margaret wearing her long pearl necklace. It was taken not long before her death in May 1920. Margaret’s daughter, 10-year-old Princess Ingrid of Sweden, inherited the necklace after her mother’s untimely passing.
As she grew older, Princess Ingrid was also often photographed wearing the pearls. Here, she’s even wrapping them around her hands, just like her mother did in earlier pictures. This image, which dates to the late 1920s, shows the necklace’s ruby clasp as well.
When Princess Ingrid married the future King Frederik IX of Denmark in May 1935, she followed in her mother’s footsteps, wearing the long pearl necklace with the ruby clasp over her bridal gown.
Indeed, Ingrid’s wedding ensemble contained several more references to her late mother. She wore the same Irish lace wedding veil that her mother had worn in 1905 (and which was later worn by her daughters, granddaughters, and granddaughter-in-law as well). She also wore a special diamond brooch in the shape of a daisy (a reference to the late Princess Margaret’s nickname), given to her as a gift by her father. The brooch is set with diamonds from Princess Margaret’s collection, and it now belongs to Ingrid’s daughter, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark.
Queen Margrethe also inherited the wedding pearls from her grandmother and namesake. While Margrethe has several significant pearl necklaces at her disposal, she tends to wear the Connaught Wedding Pearls for occasions related to her family. Here, she wears the necklace for the christening of her first granddaughter, Princess Isabella of Denmark, in July 2007. She’s also wearing a pair of gold, ruby, and enamel earrings that belonged to Princess Margaret.
Here’s a look at the earrings, also from last year’s Golden Jubilee jewelry exhibition at Amalienborg. The ruby drop of each earring coordinates nicely with the ruby clasp of the pearl necklace, so it’s easy to see why Queen Margrethe often wears them as a set.
Queen Margrethe has also worn the earrings separately for family occasions, like the christening of Count Henrik of Monpezat in July 2009. For that service, she also pinned another Connaught family heirloom, the diamond and pearl brooch given to her by her great-aunt, Lady Patricia Ramsay, to her collar.
When her second granddaughter, Countess Athena of Monpezat, was christened in May 2012, Queen Margrethe again wore the Connaught Wedding Pearls and the ruby earrings for the church service. Following traditions started by Queen Ingrid, the extended Danish royal family continues to cherish and honor the memory of their maternal ancestors through jewelry—a lovely, sparkling tribute to the love of mothers and grandmothers.