Tonight in Copenhagen, the Spanish and Danish royals wore their best gala gowns, jewels, and uniforms for a state banquet celebrating the Spanish royal couple’s state visit to Denmark.
We often see Queen Letizia of Spain pull out all the bejeweled stops when she makes state visits to other royal kingdoms, and tonight’s state banquet at Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen was no exception. Letizia wore a favorite midnight blue ballgown accessorized with diamonds and sapphires.
We’ve seen Letizia wear this gown with different gala jewels over the years. Above, a previous appearance of the dress in Tokyo in April 2017.
This time around, Letizia wore the grandest tiara in the Spanish royal vaults: Queen Ena’s Fleur-de-Lis Tiara, part of the joyas de pasar collection. The tiara is simply nicknamed “La Buena”—the good one—in Spain.
The tiara’s history dates to 1906, when it was made by Ansorena as a wedding present from King Alfonso XIII of Spain to his new British royal bride, Princess Ena of Battenberg. She wore it on their wedding day—and, during the celebrations, it sadly witnessed a tragic moment. Regardless, Ena continued to wear the tiara throughout her royal life, and after her death, she earmarked it for the use of all future Queens of Spain.
The tiara was worn on occasion next by Ena’s daughter-in-law, the Countess of Barcelona, but it was really vaulted back into the spotlight in the 1970s when Queen Sofia of Spain began wearing the jewel. She continued to use the tiara until her husband abdicated in favor of their son, Felipe, in 2014.
Queen Letizia has been wearing the tiara for several years now, usually for the most formal of royal occasions. Her debut in the piece came in February 2017, when she wore it for a state banquet in Madrid honoring the visiting President of Argentina.
As for the rest of Letizia’s jewelry, it was a combination of something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue. Another piece from Queen Ena’s joyas de pasar collection—one of the matching diamond bracelets—is visible on Letizia’s left wrist.
Her earrings come from a suite of diamond and sapphire jewels reportedly given to Queen Sofia by the Saudi royal family. Above, Sofia wears the earrings with Queen Maria Cristina’s Loop Tiara in June 2007.
Queen Letizia secured the sash of her newly-given Danish decoration, the Order of the Elephant, with a diamond fleur-de-lis brooch. The brooch is part of Letizia’s own diamond and pearl fleur-de-lis tiara, which she previously wore in Denmark in April 2015.
She also used her diamond clip brooch to secure the Elephant sash near the waist of her gown. Here’s a look at a previous appearance from that brooch, during the state visit to Portugal in November 2016.
Queen Margrethe also pulled out all the stops for tonight’s state banquet, wearing the collar of Spain’s Order of the Golden Fleece with a favorite dark green evening gown, a gray fur wrap, and diamonds and emeralds. (Fun fact: there are only three living female members of the Order of the Golden Fleece: Queen Margrethe, Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands, and the Princess of Asturias.)
These aren’t just any diamonds and emeralds, though. They’re part of Denmark’s crown jewel collection, which can usually be seen on display at Rosenborg Castle.
Here’s a closer look at the tiara from the set. The original owner of the emeralds was Sophie Magdalene of Brandenburg (1700-1770), the German-Polish princess who became Queen of Denmark and Norway via her marriage to King Christian VI. The gems were reworked into this diamond and emerald tiara in 1840 for Queen Caroline Amalie, the wife of King Christian VIII.
The set also includes several other diamond and emerald pieces. For tonight’s banquet, Queen Margrethe is wearing the earrings and the necklace. She’s also used the center section of the corsage ornament as a brooch.
The nineteenth-century emerald parure was revived in the twentieth century by Queen Margrethe’s mother, Queen Ingrid, who liked to wear it for grand state occasions. Above, she wears it for a theater performance during the British state visit to Copenhagen in 1957.
Queen Margrethe has followed in her mother’s footsteps, wearing the emeralds but carefully following the rules of wearing the Danish crown jewels, using them only for the grandest state occasions in Denmark.
Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary joined Queen Margrethe and the Spanish royal couple at tonight’s banquet as well. Mary wore the glittering gala gown made for her by Lasse Spangenberg for her (canceled) 50th birthday celebrations in 2022. She’s since used the gown for the New Year’s Levee in January 2023.
While she previously paired the dress with the Danish rubies, Mary opted for diamonds this time, wearing her Edwardian Tiara with other sparkling pieces, including large diamond earrings and her round diamond floral brooch. (The brooch was reportedly a gift from her late father-in-law, Prince Henrik.) Mary’s citrine cocktail ring can also be spotted on her right hand, picking up the golden tones of the sash of her new Spanish decoration, the Order of Isabella the Catholic.
The Edwardian Tiara is a really interesting piece. As the name suggests, it’s an antique from the early years of the twentieth century. Mary acquired the tiara at auction, and she wore it for the first time in public in its necklace form for a concert in April 2015.
In the ensuing years, she’s used the piece exclusively as a tiara, even having a pair of new earrings made to match.
And finally, here’s a glimpse of the ensemble worn by Princess Benedikte for tonight’s banquet. With a red gown, Benedikte wore the Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg Fringe Tiara, which comes from the family of her late husband, Prince Richard. She also wore a necklace that once formed a part of Queen Alexandrine’s Sautoir, plus a diamond floral pendant. Both pieces were wedding gifts from her parents, King Frederik IX and Queen Ingrid, in 1968.