On Sunday, the people of Denmark will have a new monarch for the first time in more than half a century when Queen Margrethe II abdicates in favor of her son, Crown Prince Frederik. In honor of Margrethe’s remarkable reign, we’re spending the next few days looking back at the jewels she wore for some of the most important days of her life and reign—starting with her royal wedding in the spring of 1967.
Back in 1966, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark was still Crown Princess Margrethe, daughter of King Frederik IX and Queen Ingrid and heir to the Danish throne. In the early 1960s, Margrethe moved to England to study at the London School of Economics. During her time in the UK, she met a French diplomat, Henri de Laborde de Monpezat, who was working as a secretary at the French Embassy in London. They began a romance, and in October 1966, they officially announced their engagement.
The engagement ring that Henri gave to Margrethe is one of the most iconic of their royal generation. Made by Van Cleef & Arpels, the ring is a modern take on a classic toi et moi engagement ring, where a pair of gemstones represent the engaged couple. The toi et moi ring was particularly popular in the nineteenth century, because Napoleon gave Josephine (one of Margrethe’s ancestors) a similar ring set with a diamond and a sapphire. Margrethe’s ring features two diamonds, reportedly measuring as much as six carats each.
The couple’s royal wedding took place the following spring in Copenhagen. On June 10, 1967, Crown Princess Margrethe arrived at the Holmen Church on the arm of her father, King Frederik IX. Her groom waited for her near the altar. He had recently converted to Lutheranism, and he’d also changed the spelling of his name to the Danish Henrik.
For the marriage ceremony, which clocked in at a swift twenty minutes, Crown Princess Margrethe wore a sleek gown designed by the Danish couturier Jørgen Bender. The gown served as a backdrop for the very special Irish lace veil that Margrethe wore on her wedding day. It’s the same veil that her late grandmother, Princess Margaret of Connaught, wore for her wedding to Prince Gustaf Adolf of Sweden at Windsor Castle in 1905. The veil’s lace is echoed in the lace panel set in the front of the gown.
After the wedding ceremony, Crown Princess Margrethe and Prince Henrik rode through the streets of Copenhagen in an open carriage, waving to the crowds that had gathered along the procession route. Their ultimate destination was Fredensborg Palace, where King Frederik and Queen Ingrid held a lavish reception in their honor. After dinner, Prince Henrik delivered a notable speech to his bride, calling her the most beautiful flower in the lush garden of Denmark.
The couple’s marriage was witnessed by numerous royal guests from Denmark and abroad. Margrethe’s parents and her younger sister, Princess Benedikte, were all in attendance. Notably absent were her youngest sister, Anne-Marie, and her husband, King Constantine II of the Hellenes, who were embroiled in the tensions that followed the coup d’etat mounted by a group of Greek military officers in Athens on April 21. (They had also just had their second child, Crown Prince Pavlos, on May 20.) The precarious political position of King Constantine and Queen Anne-Marie was a major subject of conversation among the guests at the wedding, as diplomatic ties between the governments in Copenhagen and Athens had all but disintegrated.
Speaking of the wedding guests, you’ll be able to spot several tiaras on royal ladies in this photograph. Queen Ingrid wore the Danish Floral Aigrette with the necklace and earrings from the brilliant set, part of the Danish crown jewels, while Princess Benedikte borrowed Queen Sofia’s Star and Pearl Tiara from her mother. Queen Fabiola of Belgium wore the Wolfers Tiara, and Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands sparkled in Queen Emma’s Diamond Tiara.
Behind King Frederik, Princess Caroline Mathilde of Denmark wears Queen Alexandrine’s Fringe Tiara. Her daughter, Princess Elisabeth, is pictured in the back row wearing Princess Thyra’s Sapphire Tiara. Beside her, Sweden’s Princess Margaretha wears the Aquamarine Kokoshnik; in front of her, her sister Birgitte wears Queen Maria II’s Sapphire and Diamond Tiara. Other tiaras in attendance included the Stuart Tiara (on Queen Juliana of the Netherlands), the Cambridge Sapphire Tiara (on Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent), the Prussian Tiara (on Princess Sofia of Spain), and the Leuchtenberg Sapphire Tiara (on Princess Sibylla of Sweden).
The jewelry chosen by the bride for the wedding, like her veil, has significant ties to her late maternal grandmother. From Queen Ingrid, Crown Princess Margrethe borrowed two pieces of jewelry linked to Princess Margaret of Connaught. She secured the lace veil with the Khedive of Egypt Tiara, a diamond jewel gifted to Margaret by the Khedive as a wedding present in 1905.
The diamond scroll tiara was previously worn as a bridal diadem by Margrethe’s youngest sister, Queen Anne-Marie, in 1964, and it would go on to be worn as a wedding tiara by all of Queen Ingrid’s daughters and granddaughters.
Margrethe wore the tiara with a new pair of diamond and pearl earrings, given to her as a wedding present by her groom. She paired them with another important heirloom as well. Queen Ingrid also loaned a special brooch to Margrethe: the Diamond Daisy Brooch, a large jewel set with diamonds that once belonged to Margaret of Connaught. Ingrid had received the brooch from her father, King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden, and wore it on her own wedding day in 1935.
Decades later, in 2000, Ingrid gifted the brooch to Margrethe, who shares the nickname “Daisy” with her maternal grandmother. She regularly wears it for special moments, including the recent speech that contained the announcement of her impending abdication.