Can you believe it? We’ve arrived in the final week of 2023, which means it’s time for our annual review of the best royal jewelry moments of the year. This post kicks off with the first six entries in the list, including royal weddings, birthday celebrations, gala jewel debuts, coming-of-age festivities, and even an actual coronation.
10. An Heirloom Wedding Tiara Moment in Portugal
There were numerous gorgeous royal weddings on the calendar this year, but it was particularly exciting to see one Portuguese royal tiara on a bride once more in October. Infanta Maria Francisca, daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Braganza, dazzled in the King Luis Diamond Tiara on her wedding day at the Palace of Mafra. The nineteenth-century tiara was a gift from King Luis I of Portugal to his daughter-in-law, Queen Amelie. She bequeathed it to her godson, the current Duke of Braganza, whose wife and daughter have now both worn the tiaras for their weddings.
9. The Duchess of Gloucester’s Emerald Bandeau Tiara Reemerges
The Duchess of Gloucester has a collection of royal jewels that rivals the vaults of some other European nations, which makes it possible for tiaras to go unseen for several years before reappearing. In November, Birgitte brought out her emerald and diamond bandeau for the South Korean state banquet at Buckingham Palace. The tiara was one of the wedding presents offered to her mother-in-law, Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, in 1935. I did a deep dive on the tiara’s fascinating history and versatility after the banquet.
8. A Bejeweled Birthday Gala Celebrating a Future King of Denmark
In October, Prince Christian of Denmark celebrated his eighteenth birthday—an important milestone for a young man who is second in line to the throne! The celebrations included new family portraits and a balcony appearance, as well as a gala filled with tiaras in the evening. Christian’s grandmother, mother, sisters, and aunts all brought out their best Danish royal jewelry, and we also saw glittering royal jewels from future monarchs and consorts of Norway, Sweden, Belgium, and the Netherlands.
7. Queen Camilla’s Heirloom Tiara Debuts
In the year and change since Queen Elizabeth II’s passing, gala events have slowly started to return to Buckingham Palace. Queen Camilla made tentative steps into the royal jewelry vaults at the start, wearing the Belgian Sapphire Tiara and the George VI Sapphires for more than one event. But in 2023, we’ve seen her debut some seriously important gala jewelry: the Diamond Diadem, the Coronation Necklace, the Girls of Great Britain & Ireland Tiara, the Burmese Ruby Tiara and the Crown Rubies, the South African Diamonds, and the City of London Fringe Necklace. (We’ve also seen her bring out some unfamiliar jewelry surprises from the vaults—but more on that later!) Some have struggled to adjust to seeing the late monarch’s jewelry on a new generation, but I’m thrilled these pieces are being worn instead of languishing in storage.
6. A Regal Wedding (With Tiaras!) in Bavaria
In May, the future head of the House of Wittelsbach, the dynasty that once ruled Bavaria, wed in a glittering ceremony in Munich. Prince Ludwig of Bavaria married Sophie-Alexandra Evekink at the Theatine Church of St. Cajetan and Adelaide. The bride wore a gorgeous diamond and sapphire tiara that belonged to the groom’s grandmother for the occasion. And the gala thrown afterward at Nymphenburg Palace in the couple’s honor by Prince Ludwig’s cousin, Pirnce Franz, Duke of Bavaria, showcased a whole range of tiaras from various European royal and noble collections. We saw gorgeous antique tiaras from Bavaria, Prussia, Hesse, Baden, Hanover, and Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, as well as sparkling tiaras from Portugal, Belgium, France, Austria, and more!
5. Coronation Day at Westminster Abbey in London
It wasn’t quite as sparkling as many of us had long hoped, but the coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla of the United Kingdom in May 2023 showcased crowns and regalia and several pieces of important heirloom jewelry. The princesses and duchesses of the family gleamed in their jewels and robes, while extended members of the family brought out heirloom trinkets, too. And the foreign royals in attendance packed some superb jewelry pieces in their hand luggage as well. All in all—getting to see the regalia in use for the first time in 70 years could easily take the top spot on any list.