What is it about mothers and daughters-in-law? Especially royal mothers? Poor Queen Ena. Her MIL, Queen Maria Cristina, was quite the the critic. No matter that Ena (whose real name was Princess Victoria Eugenie) was a direct descendant of Prince Albert and Queen Victoria (their granddaughter, to be exact). Queen Maria Cristina was born a Habsburg archduchess and she had her mind made up that her son would be marrying one of his Habsburg cousins. But cupid had other plans and so it was a Battenberg princess that won his heart.
The Queen finally acquiesced and perhaps as a white flag, she offered Ena a peace offering/wedding present in the form of a diamond and pearl tiara. If it was to win over the young princess, it didn’t appear to work. There’s only one known photograph of the tiara and she did not wear it in her 1906 wedding to King Alfonso XIII of Spain. In fact, in the 1920’s she handed the original piece off to Cartier to rework it and what came back was what we know today as Queen Ena’s Pearl and Diamond Tiara.
I have to say the original take, a simple diamond and pearl tiara with a heart motif (see, Maybe the Queen really was trying to win over Ena’s “heart”), wasn’t really a statement piece. But tiara 2.0? Now that’s a tiara! One that rivals another stunning sparkler of Ena’s, her Aquamarine Tiara.
Made of diamonds set in platinum (which was still a relatively novel and fashionable metal for jewelry use at that time), the tiara has eight large natural pearls set in the center of large laurel-like scroll elements encrusted with diamonds.
Sometimes Ena would add an additional pearl button to the top of the piece. And yet other times, she would replace the pearls (which were removable) with emeralds and wear it with other emerald jewelry pieces inherited from Empress Eugenie of France. Once exiled, Ena’s emerald jewelry was sold off. However the tiara with its pearls remained.
When Ena died, she left the tiara to one of her daughters, Infanta Maria Cristina. Maria Cristina married an Italian Count, so for a period of time, the tiara left Spain. However, after her death in 1996, the tiara was once again back on a Spanish Queen’s head. It’s not clear if King Juan Carlos purchased the tiara for his wife or if it was inherited, but it was clearly back home!
Queen Sofia loaned it out only once that we know of before her husband abdicated the throne and that was to her own daughter, Infanta Cristina in 2010. But since, we’ve seen Queen Letizia, the current Queen, wearing the stunning piece. Queen Sofia rarely wears a tiara these days, and so I think we’re pretty lucky that this masterpiece was passed on with the crown.
What do you think of the Queen Ena’s Pearl and Diamond Tiara and its giant pearls? Love it? Hate it? Tell me in the comments!