Wednesday, 29 March 2017

State Dinner Sparklers: Denmark welcomes Belgium

Queen Margrethe wore pearls for the State Dinner during the Belgian visit and no one was at all surprised
(photo Belgian Royal Palace Instagram)

State Dinner night in Copenhagen promised a lot of sparkle. We had three Danish royal ladies and the Queen of the Belgians on hand which meant a quarter of diadems. It also meant no surprises. If anyone had written down on the back of a cornflake packet what they expected to see twinkling on the heads of these four royals, they would have got it spot on. There's no vintage surprises a la Maxima here. But there is a lot of sparkle and enough diamonds to keep anyone happy. Here's the State Dinner Sparklers on the night Denmark welcomed Belgium.

This is an important State Visit and a meeting of monarchs so Margrethe was always going to go for one of her tiaras from the box marked 'Queen Only'. She chose the Pearl Poire Tiara which was made in the 1820s for Princess Louise of Prussia as a wedding gift from her father, Friedrich Wilhelm III. She married Prince Frederik of the Netherlands and this tiara ended up with their granddaughter, another Louise, who married another Frederik - this one was Crown Prince of Denmark. If they ever want another name for this tiara they could call it Fred.

Louise became Queen of Denmark and left this tiara to the trust that looks after the Royal Family's property. It's a traditional style tiara made up for diamond arches which act as a setting for the dangling pearls. It's very pretty, very historical and very regal. When was it ever not going to be worn at this State Dinner?

Queen Mathilde really did have only one option on the table. There are several diamond diadems in the Belgian royal collection but this the biggest and one that can only be worn by a queen. It also carries huge historical significance. This diamond diadem was a gift from the people of Belgium to Astrid of Sweden when she married the heir to the Belgian throne, Leopold, in 1926. It's made up of a diamond bandeau topped with individual diamonds which were said to represent the nine provinces of Belgium.

Astrid added in some arches above the single stones to give a very Art Deco look to the whole piece. When she became Queen of the Belgians in 1934 this diadem became one of her most important jewels. Astrid was one of Belgium's most popular ever queens and she was also the daughter of a Danish princess, Ingeborg, whose mother, Louise, brought the pearl poire to Copenhagen. So many layers here. it's like a walking history lesson with glitter.

Settle back, it's about to get more historical. No one batted an eyelid when Crown Princess Mary appeared in the ruby and diamond tiara - again, another predictable choice given that it's easily her biggest tiara and there was no way this future queen was going to hang around in tiny diamonds at this State Dinner. Mary also wears it frequently (we last saw it on New Year's Day for the first levee of 2017) but it also has plenty of historical links to underline the significance of this State Visit. The ruby tiara (part of a parure, most of which got an outing last night) was made at the start of the 19th century for Desiree Clary to wear to the coronation of Napoleon as Emperor of France.


Her husband became King of Sweden (as you do), Desiree became a queen and this set of jewels began their wander around Europe. They came to Copenhagen with that same Louise who brought the Pearl Poire with her but they became most famous as the property of another Swedish princess turned Queen of Denmark, Margarethe II's mother, Ingrid. She received them on her marriage to the future King Frederik IX in 1935 and kept them glued to her head as often as possible after that. She left them to her grandson, Crown Prince Frederik, and since their marriage in 2004 Mary has followed in Ingrid's footsteps by donning this diadem wherever possible. The overall look is very unusual but very delicate and while this diadem of diamonds and rubies packs a carat punch and a half, its design means it never dominates in a way that some others can. Which is perhaps why Mary threw the rest of the parure in for good measure. This wasn't a night to be shy about jewels. 

And that was a shame for Princess Marie because she really did have to play bridesmaid in this tiara performance. She wore, yes you guessed it, the floral tiara. Marie always wears the floral tiara. It's not just a go to, it's a one and only. She's been using it since her marriage to Prince Joachim in 2008 and it's a rather pretty if predictable tiara made of diamonds flowers.

It originally belonged to Queen Margrethe who didn't wear it that often and it's on loan to Marie who wears it all the time. But while it might not have the historical (or diamond) weight of the other tiaras on show, it did tick the predictable box. No alarms and no surprises on this diadem night but when the diamonds are this pretty, who really cares?

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