On the heels of yesterday’s stunning abdication announcement in Copenhagen, the Danish royal family gathered at Amalienborg for the annual New Year’s Levee with tiaras in tow.
Every year on January 1, the Danish monarch and royal family members host a reception and dinner at Christian VII’s Palace for guests from the government, parliament, and the royal court. The reception takes place on one of the “collar days” for members of the Order of the Elephant.
This year, for her final appearance at the levee as Denmark’s monarch, Queen Margrethe II wore one of her favorite pink evening gowns with a special suite of diamond and pearl jewelry.
The pearl parure consists of pieces acquired by Queen Margrethe’s great-grandmother, Queen Lovisa of Denmark, in two different stages. In 1869, when Lovisa married the future King Frederik VIII of Denmark, she received a gorgeous diamond and pearl necklace from the Khedive of Egypt as a wedding present. The necklace featured five removable pendants, and two of the them ended up being permanently taken off the necklace to be repurposed as a pair of matching earrings. At the same time, Lovisa also received a pearl necklace from her brother- and sister-in-law, Emperor Alexander III and Empress Marie Feodorovna of Russia. The necklace featured a large pearl and diamond cluster clasp, which was removed so that it could be worn as a brooch.
Two years later, Lovisa inherited another set of jewels featuring diamonds and pear-shaped pearls. Her mother, Queen Louise of Sweden, passed away in March 1871. From her, Lovisa inherited a diamond and pearl tiara, plus a matching brooch, that had belonged to Lovisa’s grandmother, the Prussian-born Princess Louise of the Netherlands. The tiara features a set of pear-shaped pearl drops suspended from a diamond frame. They move as the wearer moves, offering significant kinetic interest to accompany the diamond sparkle.
Lovisa began wearing her mother’s pearl suite with her pearl and diamond wedding gifts, and a married parure of jewelry was born. It’s usually called the Pearl Poiré Parure—”poiré” being the French word for “pear,” a reference to the shape of many of the pearls in the combined set. In her will, Lovisa placed the pearl and diamond suite in trust, ensuring that it can never be broken up, and that it passes from monarch to monarch.
The pearl tiara and coordinating jewels have been worn by each Queen of Denmark since: Queen Alexandrine, Queen Ingrid, and Queen Margrethe II. Indeed, Queen Ingrid handed the parure over to Queen Margrethe almost immediately after her accession to the throne in 1972. Margrethe wore it for her first official portraits as monarch and for several early gala appearances, and she’s continued to wear it often ever since.
Today may mark the final time that we see Margrethe wearing the pearl tiara together with other pieces from the set. She’s announced that, in two weeks, she will abdicate in favor of her son, who will become King Frederik X of Denmark. At that point, the pearl and diamond jewels should transfer to the new monarch’s custody, to be worn by his wife, the new Queen Mary.
Margrethe used the pearls so often in the years when she was coming into her own as a queen regnant, and it was poignant to see her make her major gala farewell as monarch wearing the same jewels.
And speaking of Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary—they were, of course, also present at Amalienborg for this evening’s levee.
Crown Princess Mary was elegant in a deep red velvet evening gown, paired with another important set of Danish heirloom jewels.
The Danish Ruby Parure also arrived in Denmark with Queen Lovisa. She received the set, which at the time lacked a tiara, from her grandmother, Queen Josefina of Sweden, as a wedding present in 1869. Josefina liked that the red and white colors of the jewelry matched the colors of the flag of Lovisa’s new country. The jewels had a long history in Sweden and, before that, in France. They originally belonged to Josefina’s mother-in-law, Queen Desiree, who acquired them to wear at the coronation of Napoleon Bonaparte in Paris in 1804.
In 1898, Lovisa gifted the leaf-shaped ruby and diamond hair pins from the set to her new daughter-in-law, the future Queen Alexandrine. She had the pins transformed so that they could be worn as a bandeau. When she passed away, Queen Lovisa reunited the suite, bequeathing the rest of the rubies to Alexandrine’s husband, King Christian X.
They gave the entire ruby set to their daughter-in-law, Queen Ingrid, as a wedding present in 1935. She wears it above for a pre-wedding celebration in Stockholm. (On the right, you’ll also see Queen Alexandrine wearing the Pearl Poiré Parure.) She later had the bandeau transformed into a triumphant wreath tiara, wearing it often for the rest of her life. When she passed away, Ingrid bequeathed the set to her grandson, Crown Prince Frederik, so that his future wife could wear it.
Since she married Frederik in 2004, the wearer of the Danish royal rubies has been Crown Princess Mary. For tonight’s reception, she wore the tiara, modified earrings, and brooch from the set.
She also used some of the suite’s remaining hair pins in the back of her updo.
Here’s one more look at the jewels worn by Mary in her crown princess gala farewell moment—the same parure, of course, that she wore for her very first tiara appearances in May 2004.
There were three more royals and two more tiaras on display tonight, too. Prince Joachim and Princess Marie attended the reception.
Princess Marie wore a favorite navy blue evening gown from her collection.
She accessorized with Princess Dagmar’s Floral Tiara and a pair of diamond earrings.
And finally, Princess Benedikte made a glamorous appearance at the reception, too.
She wore diamonds with her sparkling purple sequin evening gown, including the Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg Fringe Tiara from the family collection of her late husband, Prince Richard, and the diamond necklace that once belonged to Queen Alexandrine.
Here’s another, closer view of her jewels. I’m fascinated by the modern-looking pendant she wore with the Alexandrine sautoir portion. It features a scroll motif in diamonds with pearl pendants.
I’ll see you back here on Wednesday morning with sparkling tiaras from Tokyo!