In recent years it seems Princess Astrid, who is now 82, has more or less given up wearing her larger tiaras, i.e. the Vasa diadem of her mother and the diamond and turquoise coronet of her great-grandmother, Queen Alexandra of Britain. These days she mostly chooses lighter pieces, primarily the gold bandeau of her great-grandmother Queen Sophie and an aigrette that is one of the most versatile and peculiar pieces of royal jewellery.
The latter is really two different pieces of jewellery; in other words the base is the same, but there are two different ornaments that can be attached to it.
The version most frequently worn – most recently for the state banquet during the Israeli state visit in May – has a pair of diamond Mercury wings that tremble as the wearer moves. The other version – seen at the state banquet for the President of Estonia last week – has a ruby set in diamonds in the shape of a flower from which two long-stemmed flowers of diamonds and rubies emerge.
When I wrote my biography of her, which was published seven years ago, Princess Astrid told me she is always teased when she wears the aigrette in is latter setting, “people say they suppose one [flower] receives London and the other Moscow”.
The Victorian and Edwardian eras were the heyday of aigrettes, which could be worn as a head ornament with ostrich feathers (Princess Astrid says she has not contemplated that look). Princess Astrid’s aigrette originally belonged to her grandmother, Queen Maud, whose jewels were divided between her three grandchildren in the autumn of 1968. Unlike the Vasa tiara and the turquoise coronet it will not pass to the King upon Princess Astrid’s death, but be inherited by her children.
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