Investiture 2013: Maxima Is Sure To Shine

April 30th will be a bittersweet day. We’re all looking forward to the investiture of Prince Willem-Alexander, but we will miss Queen Beatrix.

Not only will we miss Beatrix as queen, but we will miss those unmistakable hats and her glorious array of jewels. Oh, they’ll still be around, but it won’t be the same. The full-time jewel and tiara-wearing will fall to Maxima, who is sure to shine as King Willem-Alexander’s queen consort.

We know Maxima, and she’s not going to disappoint. Her hats are not as distinct as those of Queen Beatrix, but she will certainly pull her weight in the jewel department. Her record as a princess bears that out – if it’s not colorful statement jewelry, then Maxima is wearing the heck out of a set of rubies, emeralds, or diamonds. I can hardly wait for her “queen style”.

Willem-Alexander will wear a tail coat with white tie under the royal mantle, but Maxima will surely pull out all the stops with a gorgeous gown and magnificent suite. As with Crown Princess Victoria’s wedding, I am going to try and guess which tiara will be worn for the event! A few ideas (click to enlarge images):

maxima_peacockThe Peacock Tiara is part of a huge ruby and diamond set which includes this matching necklace.

The little jewel “spray”, or peacock motif, on the tiara is actually a removable piece. This is not the only ruby darling up Maxima’s well-tailored sleeve, however!

ruby mellerio The Ruby Mellerio tiara We’ve heard the Mellerio name before – he’s a French jeweler famous for creating several Dutch tiaras as well as tiaras belonging to Spanish royals (Mellerio Shell and Floral tiaras). This ruby parure, the tiara worn by Maxima at left, was ordered by King Willem III for his second wife, Queen Emma.

DiamondbeandeauThe Diamond Bandeau Tiara was created for Queen Juliana using large diamonds that her grandmother, Queen Emma, had received as a wedding gift.

Maxima has worn this tiara on several occasions. At left, she dons the Bandeau for the wedding of Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden. The sumptuous diamond rocks are set in platinum.

max stars Maxima’s ‘Stars’ wedding tiara – These beauts belonged to Queen Emma. Maxima has worn this tiara on several occasions and donned it for her wedding day to Willem-Alexander.

I didn’t realize that another tiara like this existed. Interestingly, the Mountbatten family has a similar tiara within their family. If you thought a fringe tiara was pointy, guess again!

aquamarinesAquamarines are amazing. These brilliant blue gems have graced the likes of Queen Elizabeth II, Swedish princesses, and of course, the Dutch royal ladies.

These particular aquamarines seen on Maxima are Brazilian Aquamarines, an eighteenth birthday present for Princess Juliana from her parents. The tiara is a diamond and aquamarine bandeau topped with seven large briolette cut aquamarine stones (a briolette is an elongated pear-shaped gemstone cut with facets, and is often styled to hang as a bead).

Maxima pearlsThe Antique Peal tiara holds large, pear-shaped pearl spikes within an array of delicate diamond petals. The spikes are removable for a more subtle look without losing sparkle.

Maxima has worn the tiara both ways, and at left we see her in the tiara’s full glory for one of her official 40th birthday portraits in 2011 (photo by Erwin Olaf).

What’s your preferred suite for Maxima? Do you think she’ll wear something other than these? Let me know in the comments below. Viva le Orange!

Thanks to:

Royal Magazin
Mad Hattery
Order of Splendor

De Kongelige Juveler (The Royal Jewels) Parts 1 and 2

I have been watching this documentary called De Kongelige Juveler (“The Royal Jewels”) and wanted to share. Members of the Danish Royal Family discuss historic royal jewels. There is even an appearance by Queen Silvia of Sweden, who further elaborates on the intricate shared family histories of magnificent parures.

Vladimir tiara - color

Vladimir tiara
© The Royal Collection

Included in this brilliant documentary – presented in English, Danish, and French – are other famous jewels such as the Russian Romanov favorite – Faberge eggs. Also documented is the famous Grand Duchess Vladimir tiara, named for the formidable aunt of Tsar Nicholas II. This tiara is currently in the possession of Queen Elizabeth II, and the tiara’s historic journey out of Russia to the British Royal Family is discussed by Prince Michael of Kent, Prince Michael of Greece and Denmark, and other Romanov descendants.

Those lucky Aussies! I haven’t been able to find the videos on YouTube – nor the DVDs – anywhere. Our Australian friends can locate it in their region, however, so here is the link to purchase: ABC Shop

Which Tiara Will Kate Debut?

Everyone loves the delicate Cartier Halo Scroll tiara. It has graced the regal heads of the Queen Mother, Princess Margaret, and Princess Anne. It fell out of regular use, but on April 29th, 2011, it came back into the spotlight as it crowned the House of Windsor’s newest member – the Duchess of Cambridge.

The tiara is simple and elegant, and it compliments the new royal very well. Kate will no doubt wear it again for a major event.

The question is, what will Kate’s next tiara be?

As the Duchess of Cambridge, it’s a natural assumption that Kate may get the Cambridge Lover’s Knot.

© The Queen’s Jewels (Leslie Field)

The catch: so many people associate it with the late Diana, Princess of Wales that Kate may pass over it for the time being. The Duchess is also unlikely to be seen wearing any of the “big” tiaras yet, as the Queen still wears many of them (like the Grand Duchess Vladimir tiara, the Kokoshnik, and the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara).

Some of the other biggies are currently being worn by Prince Charles’ wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall. Camilla has been photographed in the Queen Mother’s honeycomb-style Boucheron tiara and Queen Mary’s Delhi Durbar tiara. Kate will probably not wear these, but who knows? The two duchesses seem to get along very well, and perhaps Camilla will want to have a “tiara buddy” at a grand event and give Kate a lend!

So what else is inside that giant jewel vault? Some ideas:



Russian Fringe Tiara

Made by E. Wolff & Co. for Garrards in 1919 for the future Queen Mary. It is erroneously said that it was made for King George III’s consort, Queen Charlotte.

It was made with diamonds taken from a necklace/tiara purchased by Queen Victoria. In August 1936, Queen Mary gave the tiara to her daughter-in-law, Queen Elizabeth, who lent it to her daughter, Princess Elizabeth, for her wedding in 1947. Princess Anne wore it for her wedding day in 1973.

The Queen has worn this in recent times, but her favorite seems to be the GB&I tiara. She may give Kate a lend of the fringe tiara!

It is still a popular style and several royal ladies wear a fringe tiara. There is the Habsburg fringe; the Baden fringe (Crown Princess Victoria); and the Kent City of London Fringe (Princess Michael of Kent).

The Strathmore Rose Tiara

This was a wedding gift to Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon from her father, the Earl of Strathmore.

Elizabeth married the Duke of York on April 26th, 1923. It would be a touching gesture if Kate was given this tiara to wear, as she also married a princely duke in the month of April.

It is also somewhat similar to Princess Marie of Denmark’s Diamond Floral tiara. Marie’s is slightly larger with more bits and bobs, but rest assured, Kate: diamond tiara roses look great on a classy royal brunette. You can’t go wrong with this one.

Kate has already worn the Queen Mother’s Halo scroll, so this may be an option. Keep an eye out!

Thanks to shefollowedherheart via Tumblr

The Spencer Tiara

Another touching family tribute would be this tiara. It was worn by Diana, Princess of Wales upon her marriage to Prince Charles in 1981 and also by her sisters at their respective weddings. It has been in the Spencer family for several generations, though its current build is, like many of its royal counterparts, not the original.

Diana also wore this tiara quite often, and for now it may be too Princess of Wales-esque for Kate to wear just yet. By wearing her late mother-in-law’s engagement ring (and occasionally matching earrings), the Duchess is in danger of going into Diana overload, something she will want to carefully avoid.

© Paul Grover

Teck Crescent Tiara

The gregarious Princess Mary Adelaide, Duchess of Teck, brought the Teck Crescent Tiara into the British Royal Family through her daughter, Queen Mary.

This particular tiara from Queen Mary’s family has not seen the light of day for decades. This may be because it is no longer in the royal family’s possession, or it just hasn’t been used yet. It is an unusual style, as sharp as its name – Teck! It is still quite lovely, though, and it would look great on a Duchess Catherine up ‘do. (Thanks to Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor)

If there’s a tiara you think compliments Kate, comment below!

photo credit: Comrade Foot via photo pin cc

The End of an Era?

The End of an Era?
by Victoria “Tori” Martínez

I’m afraid this has been coming for some time now, at least in my opinion. The wedding of Prince William to Catherine Middleton last month only confirmed my fears.

The era of ubiquitous royal tiaras appears to be nearing its end in Britain.

When Catherine Middleton, now HRH The Duchess of Cambridge, first appeared in the Cartier Halo tiara (also known as the Scroll tiara), which was lent to her by the Queen, the first thoughts that crossed my mind were how lovely it looked on her and what an appropriate choice it was. As a middle-class woman marrying the second-in-line to the throne during a major global economic recession, anything grander would have seemed unsuitable, not to mention tactless.

My second thoughts were about just how much the role of the tiara has changed in Britain since the Victorian Era, particularly in the last 50 years.

Consider this: although royal brides from Queen Victoria to Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon generally did not wear tiaras during their weddings, they could at least expect to receive quite a few of them as wedding gifts, and they most certainly wore them at every possible opportunity.

Princess Marina of Greece broke the Victorian tradition of wearing no bridal tiara when she married Prince George, Duke of Kent, in 1934. Instead of the usual flowers, she fixed her veil to her head with a beautiful fringe tiara given to her by the City of London. The move was quite appropriate, as under the reign of King George V and Queen Mary, tiaras were de rigueur for any royal or high social event. It’s well-known that Queen Mary wore a tiara even when she dined alone with the king.

When Queen Elizabeth II was Heiress Presumptive to her father’s throne, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth gave their daughter her first tiara, the Scroll tiara we now know as the Halo tiara. The king had originally given this tiara to the queen in 1936 when they were Duke and Duchess of York, just before the Abdication Crisis that made them king and queen. Although the Duchess of York had worn it before she became queen, the rich bounty of the royal vaults gave her an incredible selection of magnificent tiaras and other jewels, making the Halo seem a bit un-queenly.

For this reason, it was the perfect tiara for the 18-year-old Heiress Presumptive, although it seems she never wore this tiara in public, probably since her collection rapidly grew thanks to birthdays and the beautiful tiaras she received as wedding gifts. Among the wedding gifts were the tiara given to Queen Mary when she was a bride by the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland, which Elizabeth called “Granny’s Tiara,” and a Cartier bandeau tiara of English rose and foliage design from the Nizam of Hyderabad. On her wedding day, Princess Elizabeth borrowed The King George III Fringe tiara from her mother.

After she became Queen, Elizabeth proved to be an excellent model for the many beautiful royal tiaras in her personal and the State collections. Some of the best pictures of the Queen, in my opinion, are those taken of her as a young woman looking every inch a queen in her beautiful 1950s and early 1960s gowns and furs, literally sparkling in jewels and tiaras that were only matched by her radiant smile and glowing skin.

Princess Margaret was also quite stunning in a tiara in those days. The Queen often lent her the Halo tiara, which looked quite elegant on the doll-like princess. For her wedding, however, Margaret went all out with the magnificent Poltimore tiara, bought especially for her at auction. Despite having no royal connections, the tiara was a towering beauty that could be disassembled and worn in a variety of other ways.

As the Queen’s only daughter, Princess Anne, came of age, she was frequently photographed wearing the Halo tiara for portraits and State occasions. Clearly, this tiara had become something of a starter tiara for young royal ladies. When Princess Anne married, she followed in her mother’s footsteps and borrowed the Fringe tiara from her grandmother.

Like the Queen, Princesses Margaret and Anne eventually acquired further tiaras of their own. In addition to the Poltimore tiara, Princess Margaret was given Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother’s Papyrus tiara and the Persian turquoise tiara. Princess Anne was given Princess Andrew of Greece’s Meander tiara by the Queen in 1972, as well as a diamond festoon tiara presented to her in 1973 by the World Wide Shipping Group.

Other royal ladies, including the Duchesses of Kent and Gloucester, Princess Alexandra of Kent and Princess Michael of Kent, also inherited or acquired an array of tiaras, and the fashion for wearing and receiving tiaras seemed firmly set in royal style well into the 80s. Princess Michael of Kent, in particular, seemed born to wear beautiful tiaras.

When Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer in 1981, the new Princess of Wales received the Cambridge Lover’s Knot tiara as a wedding gift from the Queen and frequently borrowed the Spencer tiara she had worn as a bride. This may seem a paltry collection for a Princess of Wales, but considering that she could have expected to inherit much of the Queen’s personal tiaras one day, never mind wear the Crown jewels, it is not all that surprising.

Sarah Ferguson, on the other hand, could not expect such a large inheritance as Duchess of York. Had she remained married to the Duke of York, she might have eventually inherited a few more from the Queen after her eventual death, but the bulk would have gone to Diana if she herself had become queen. Nevertheless, her bridal tiara (not a family heirloom, but a purchase from Garrard) was a wedding gift from the Queen and Prince Philip. To my knowledge, it remains her only one.

No doubt the divorces of Diana and Charles and Fergie and Andrew caused the Queen to become even more circumspect in her sharing and gifting of tiaras. Now, the royal vaults are more tightly sealed than ever, and new royal brides and royal ladies are considered lucky to receive a tiara as a gift, or even as a loaner, from the Queen.

When Sophie Rhys-Jones married Prince Edward and became Countess of Wessex, her bridal tiara was a wedding gift from the Queen that was possibly made from a necklace that formerly belonged to Queen Victoria. Since her marriage, the Countess has borrowed several smaller tiaras from the Queen for State occasions, but they usually pale in comparison to the tiaras worn by Continental royal women.

Autumn Kelly, the bride of the Queen’s eldest grandson, Peter Phillips (and the first of her grandchildren to marry), had to make due with a loaner at her wedding: the diamond festoon tiara given to her new mother-in-law, Princess Anne, by the World Wide Shipping Group. In any case, the down-to-earth Autumn doesn’t seem like much of a tiara-wearer.

It seems likely that if a tiara had appeared on the head of Camilla Parker-Bowles when she married Prince Charles there would have been uproar from certain quarters. Still, Camilla has managed to borrow at least two of the late Queen Mother’s tiaras, including the Boucheron and Delhi Durbar tiaras (the latter was originally owned by Queen Mary, who probably rolled over in her grave the first time Camilla wore it).

In my opinion, the Duchess of Cornwall does little justice to these large and magnificent tiaras, which doesn’t bode well for her future career in tiara-wearing. Not that any of the tiaras she may one day wear as queen (or, if you like, “princess consort”) will weigh anything but heavy on her head given the past. This, naturally, is only my personal opinion; but what is perhaps more based in fact is that the Prince of Wales has expressed somewhat less of an interest in the outward displays of pomp and pageantry than his predecessors. When (if?) he eventually becomes king, it’s possible that he will follow the more modern mood of informality, including using fewer of the more magnificent pieces of royal jewels to decorate his wife.

The new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge seem even less inclined to cover themselves in ermine and diamonds, much in keeping with their own generation’s style. Instead of tiaras and furs, the Sloane Ranger set seems much more interested in expensive – and frequently bizarre – hats and the latest modern haute couture. If they continue in this way, their eventual royal court will probably be about as low-key as their wedding was. Not poor, to be sure, but not dripping in passé heirloom diamond tiaras.

As an ardent admirer of fine jewels – especially tiaras – this future is a bit sad for me. I, like many others, revel in seeing magnificent old tiaras elegantly worn on beautifully-coiffed heads. The idea of seeing these images only in books one day makes me a bit wistful. On the other hand, it also means progress to a more modern monarchy that lives somewhat less grandly and has less need for parading around in fine tiaras or keeping them locked away in vaults out of the public eye.

It also means that more of these historic tiaras may be making their way out of the vaults and into museums to be seen up close and personal after years of gathering dust or giving their wearers right royal headaches. In fact, if the generous act of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in asking for charitable donations rather than gifts as wedding presents (at least from those outside close friends and family) is any indicator, perhaps one day many of the magnificent royal tiaras – including those that haven’t been seen for many years – may be put on display to raise money for charity.

In this way, the end of one era could become the beginning of another.

Victoria “Tori” Martínez
Author of “An Unusual Journey Through Royal History,” available on and