The Norwegian Royal Court has just released new official portraits of the senior royals (copyright Sølve Sundsbø and the Royal Court), in which the Queen wears one of her favourite tiaras.
The tiara of diamonds and pearls was originally among the presents given to Princess Maud of Britain on the occasion of her marriage to Prince Carl of Denmark (later King Haakon VII of Norway) in 1896. The givers were the bride’s parents, the Prince and Princess of Wales, the future King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, but the name of the jeweller is not known.
This tiara is strongly associated with Queen Maud, who wore it frequently and was often photographed with it. But following her death in 1938 it would be thirty years before the tiara and most of Queen Maud’s other jewellery were seen again.
In my biography of Princess Astrid, which contains information on most of the royal tiaras, the Princess explains why. Queen Maud used to take most of her jewels with her when she went to England every autumn and also did so in 1938. When the Queen died during her stay in her native land, her jewellery was put in storage at Windsor Castle.
It remained there during the Second World War and indeed it was only in connection with the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in June 1953 that Crown Prince Olav and Crown Princess Märtha brought it back to Norway. As the Crown Princess was by then already mortally ill and died ten months later she never came to wear any of her mother-in-law’s jewels.
Following Crown Princess Märtha’s death her three children decided not to divide their grandmother’s jewellery until Prince Harald had married, meaning that it was not done until late in the autumn of 1968.
Queen Maud’s big diamond tiara, which had also been a wedding present in 1896 and was possibly the most valuable of the items, was inherited by Princess Ragnhild. Princess Astrid got the turquoise crown which had been made for Queen Alexandra of Britain and a small diadem which can be worn either with ruby flowers or with diamond wings.
Crown Prince Harald inherited a diamond tiara with Maltese crosses (also from Queen Alexandra), the delicate so-called Fan tiara, which was supposedly an eighteenth birthday present to the then Princess Maud from her grandmother Queen Victoria of Britain, and the pearl tiara.
His wife, Sonja, used it frequently both as Crown Princess and as Queen. But on 6 February 1995 the tiara, along with other pieces of jewellery belonging to the Queen, was stolen during a burglary at the crown jeweller Garrard’s in London, where they had been sent for maintenance. The stolen jewellery has never been found, but an exact replica of the pearl and diamond was eventually made.
The tiara can be worn both in its full version, as seen in the official portrait above, and in a simpler version with the frontal part detached. The Queen alternates between the two versions, whereas Princess Märtha Louise wore the simpler version on her wedding day in 2002. Crown Princess Mette-Marit wore the tiara (in its simple version) for the first time at the wedding of Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel of Sweden in 2010.
In the official portrait above the Queen also wears a diamond and pearl brooch, yet another wedding present to Queen Maud in 1896, and diamond earrings which were originally pendants on a necklace worn by Queen Alexandra of Britain.