Today, Queen Mary of Denmark celebrates her birthday for the first time since her husband’s accession to the throne. In her honor, we’re looking back today at one of her regal appearances from last year, wearing Catherine the Great’s turquoises at the British coronation.
On May 6, 2023, Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark arrived at Westminster Abbey in London to attend the coronation of his cousin, King Charles III, and Queen Camilla. Frederik is a great-great-grandson of the Duke of Connaught, the seventh child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. His grandmother, Queen Ingrid, was particularly close to her maternal family, especially after the early death of her mother, Princess Margaret of Connaught.
It’s tradition that heirs attend coronations rather than crowned monarchs. (The idea, I believe, is that the newly-crowned monarch should be the highest-ranking person in the room.) At Charles and Camilla’s coronation, though, many sovereigns bucked tradition and attended anyway. The Kings of Spain, Belgium, Malaysia, Tonga, Sweden, Jordan, Lesotho, the Netherlands, Bhutan, Thailand, and Eswatini all attended, as did the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, the Emir of Qatar, and the Prince of Monaco. But Queen Margrethe II of Denmark held firm to the old way of doing things and sent her heir along instead—in part because she was recovering from surgery. (It’s too bad, really: I can’t think of many people who would be more fascinated with a foreign coronation than Queen Margrethe!)
Regardless, Frederik and Mary looked exceptionally regal as they arrived at the Abbey for the coronation. Mary wore a tailored coat dress with a matching headpiece, shoes, and gloves, all in a deep shade of royal blue-purple.
For contrast, she wore a special suite of diamond and turquoise jewels that had been given to her in February 2022 by Queen Margrethe as a 50th birthday present.
The jewels, pictured above in an early twentieth-century archive photograph, belonged to Margrethe’s grandmother, the British-born Princess Margaret of Connaught. Her turquoise collection included numerous pieces: the earrings and brooch/pendant worn by Mary at the Abbey, plus other brooches, rings, and even a bandeau-style tiara.
Queen Margrethe inherited the turquoises from her mother, Queen Ingrid, who was Princess Margaret’s only daughter. She wore them for decades, and she clearly delighted in arranging the pieces in different configurations. Above, for example, she uses two pieces from the set as a large pendant on a diamond necklace in Stockholm in 2010.
And here, she wears a larger setting of the brooch with the bandeau and earrings for a banquet in 2012.
For the 2023 coronation, Crown Princess Mary kept things simple. She wore the diamond and turquoise cluster drops suspended from small diamond studs. And she let the large turquoises sing by pairing the oval cluster brooch with the large, pear-shaped cluster pendant.
The turquoises would be exceptional enough if they were only linked to Margaret of Connaught. But when Heidi Laura published her book on Margrethe’s jewelry collection in 2022, it was revealed that, by family tradition, the turquoises come from the collection of Catherine the Great. It’s more than plausible: after all, Margaret of Connaught was a direct descendant of Catherine through her mother, Princess Louise Margaret of Prussia. And I can’t think of a better custodian for the incredible jewels than Queen Mary, who has shown herself to be an interested and capable wearer of heirloom royal jewels for 20 years.