Every young princess needs a starter tiara. It’s just a fact. But there are rules. It can’t be too over the top or ornate. That would be gauche and tacky. It should be simple and elegant and something that can be used on the reg. Who better to understand that than said young princess’ parents? Which is likely why Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and his wife presented this tiara to their only daughter and youngest child, Princess Victoria Louise of Prussia. Her parents are on the throne in Germany and her great grandmother? None other than Queen Victoria. The girl needed a tiara.
As would have been customary at the time, the young woman is not presented with nor in need of a tiara until she decides to marry. And that’s exactly when her parents had this tiara commissioned. Once she and Prince Ernst August, the grandson of the last king of Hanover, announce their engagement, tiara preparations began.
And what a wedding it was. Little did they know at the time, but it would be one of the last great gatherings of royals before the outbreak of WWI. There were over 1000 people in attendance, including George the V and Mary, who were both cousins of both the bride and the groom (eeek).
The court jeweler, Koch, was commissioned to make a tiara in the kokoshnik style, incorporating many of the popular tiara themes of the time: laurel wreaths, a meander, an en tremblant pendant drop. The standard stuff of tiaras. In honor of Victoria Louise’s family (and to take some Prussian heritage with her), the tiara is called the Prussian Tiara. And even though the Duke can’t reign in Hanover (kind of thanks to his bride’s family), he does still hold a dukedom from each side of his family. So, a few months after the wedding, Ernst August succeeds to the Brunswick dukedom, and Victoria Louise, now the Duchess of Brunswick, takes the tiara with her.
Victoria Louise and Ernst August have a daughter, Princess Friederike. Who just happens to fall in love with Prince Paul of Greece. He’s set to become the heir to the Greek throne and as luck would have it, the tiara given to Friderike’s mother has some hellenic style to it. And it doesn’t hurt that Friederike is their only daughter, so of course this tiara will become hers. Her mother gives it to her as a wedding gift when she marries Paul in Athens.
Ten months later…. Friederike has a daughter, Sophia. And then Friederike and Paul become the king and queen of the Hellenes and that meander motif (also known as a “Greek Key”) comes in quite handy. Apparently the Queen was quite the match maker and organized a cruise through the Greek Isles in 1954, inviting a number of young royals. Her daughter is of marrying age and happens to meet Infante Juan Carlos of Spain. His family is in exile, but he’s still the son of potential king. Their engagement is announced but did her parents realize that she was going to make some big changes? She converts to Roman Catholicism AND she switches the spelling of her name to the Spanish version: Sofia <insert a gasp here>.
They marry in Athens and, as had become the tradition, her mother gifts Sofia with the Prussian Tiara as a wedding present. Eventually Sofia and Juan Carlos become the Prince and Princess of Spain and then still further down the line, the King and Queen of Spain. Sofia is generous with the loaning of the tiara – both of her daughters wore it to various state banquets.
But the tiara has yet another life. Sofia and Juan Carlos’ only son, Prince Felipe, marries Spanish journalist, Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano in 2004, and Sofia loans Letizia the tiara for their nuptials. She borrows the tiara on a number of occasions each year, until her father-in-law abdicates the throne and Juan Carlos becomes King. Now the tiara is passed on to her and it seems to be one of her favorites, as she’s worn it often.
It’s fun to see the how a tiara moves from family to family, as the young women wearing it married and moved to new kingdoms to be with their princes. What do you think? Is it appropriate as a “starter tiara”? Should Letizia keep it in rotation or loan it to one or both of her daughters for royal functions? Share your thoughts with me in the comments.