State and Party Sparklers: 80th birthday celebrations in Oslo

Tiara-tastic in Oslo last night for Harald and Sonja's 80th birthday celebrations
(photo nrk tv still)

They promised us a sparkling event and they made good on the glitter. As King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway marked their 80th birthdays with a gala in Oslo, there were tiaras as far as the eye could see. Queens and princesses from across the continent brought out the bling providing a feast of fabulousness that was almost too much to take in on the first look. So settle back and enjoy a whistlestop tour of all the sparklers brought to this major royal event.

Let's start with the royal hostess with the mostest gems. Queen Sonja surprised no one and pleased everybody when she wore her favourite emerald tiara.  It's been her signature piece for decades now so it really had to come out for this major event.  The fabulous tiara, which began its royal life in Sweden and came to Norway when Princess Martha married the then Crown Prince Olav, was the sparkling star of the show at these birthday celebrations. That's not to say the other tiaras on show weren't spectacular. Get ready for some serious jewel action.

Crown Princess Mette-Marit is wearing a tiara, it's just hard to see it in most of the photos. That didn't stop lots of people getting very excited though because this is a diadem debut from Mette-Marit who chose the Vifte Tiara for this big event. This is another piece of royal history, being given to Queen Maud of Norway when she was just a princess and her granny, Queen Victoria, rocked up with this as an 18th birthday gift. Likes grannies do. Mette-Marit has worn it as a necklace before but never in the tiara setting. Princess Martha Louise also did the whole grandparent gift thing with her choice, wearing the diamond and pearl tiara her grandpapa, King Olav, gave her when she turned eighteen. All rather sweet, even if you can't see much of the sparkle on the balcony.

No such worries for the Dutch Royal Family who brought out tiaras so big they could be seen from Amsterdam. Queen Maxima went for that wall of diamonds and sapphires given to the last woman to hold the role of consort in the Netherlands, Emma, back in the 19th century. It's become a bit of a signature piece for Maxima since she wore it for Willem-Alexander's accession in 2013 and it still looked great even if it didn't go with anything else she was wearing. Princess Beatrix went for one of her favourites, choosing the Wuttemberg Diamond and Pearl Tiara, which traces its history back to the 19th century. It's a hugely significant piece for Beatrix - she wore it on her wedding day and the night before she abdicated for her last gala event as a queen.  Princess Mabel wore a tiara that packs an historical punch, too. The Pearl Button Tiara was worn by Beatrix at her enthronement in 1980 and Maxima used the base on her wedding day when she swapped the pearls for diamond stars.

Princess Astrid of Norway could more than hold her tiara own with the Dutch royal ladies as she joined them in their section of the palace balcony. Astrid chose the turquoise tiara which was first brought to Norway by her grandmother, Queen Maud, via her own mother, Queen Alexandra. It's very late Victorian/ early Edwardian in design and yet Astrid makes it look rather modern.

We got a lot of floral gowns last night (more on those in a post to follow) and two royal sisters kept the botanic theme up with a pair of tiaras that seemed to be made to worn together. Queen Margrethe II of Denmark chose the Diamond Floral Aigrette tiara which she's made her own.  This selection of gem studded flowers wraps round her hair like it was created to do just that even though it's actually been passed down to her and packs a sentimental punch as her own mother, Queen Ingrid, wore this to Margrethe's wedding fifty years ago this summer. You can't help but wonder if she and little sister, Anne-Marie of Greece, did a bit of matching up before hand.  Anne-Marie's choice of her Ruby and Diamond tiara, with its leaves of sparkling stones, has the same ethereal feel. 


Crown Princess Mary chose the tiara that got everyone very excited last year when she wore it at the State Dinner for the President of Mexico during his visit to Denmark. This diadem, of diamonds and rubies, is said to have been a gift to Mary from herself (we all need one of those from time to time) and after she'd picked it up at auction she wore it as a necklace before trying out the tiara option. 

Keeping it pale and very interesting were the Countess of Wessex and the Hereditary Grand Duchess of Luxembourg. We all knew Sophie would choose aquamarines, they're her go to, and she didn't disappoint with another sighting of the scroll tiara she wears so frequently to major royal events. With its arches of diamonds building to a huge, central aquamarine it's got plenty of regal razzmatazz without being overbearing. Sophie to a tee. Stephanie went for the rather pretty diamond and sapphire tiara that is closely associated with Marie-Adelaide of Luxembourg who was her country's first Grand Duchess regnant (her reign ended in abdication following World War One). There is a great big sapphire nestling amongst all those diamonds but it's a subtle one and suits Stephanie to perfection.

There was nothing subtle about Queen Silvia of Sweden's sapphires. Silvia wore one of her most famous tiaras, that sapphire and diamond diadem she's made a go to in her record breaking time as consort of Sweden. This stunner of a sapphire set was given to Augusta, Duchess of Leuchtenberg on her marriage to Napoleon's stepson, Eugene de Beauharnais, and ended up in Sweden through their daughter, Josephine, queen consort to Oscar I. They've ended up on Silvia's head on a frequent basis and there were no surprises as the Queen of Sweden wore one of her favourite sparklers for this special occasion.
Crown Princess Victoria stuck to a tried and tested tiara as well as she wore the Baden Fringe diadem that came to Sweden through another royal marriage. When Victoria of Baden married the future King Gustav V in 1881 her parents popped this into her present box. It's a very pretty, very sparkly set of diamond spikes that goes with just about everything and has gone with Crown Princess Victoria just about everywhere in recent times.


Princess Sofia of Sweden is still at that stage of her royal career where there are more tiaras to debut than put on the been there, seen it, worn it to a major regal event list. We got another new to Sofia look last night when she wore the Swedish Six Button Tiara. This diadem features six buttons, round collections of diamonds, used on the crown worn by King Carl XIV Johan in 1818. That traces this piece right back to the start of the Bernadotte dynasty. It's been worn by many royal ladies in recent times and it does work rather well with the black evening gown chosen by Sofia.


Pure diamond affairs, too, for Mathilde of the Belgians and Maria Teresa of Luxembourg. Belgium's queen consort went for the Wolfers tiara which was given to Queen Fabiola on her marriage to King Baudouin in 1960. It's quite discreet for a piece that contains hundreds of diamonds but paired with that red, it became standout on Mathilde. Maria Teresa chose another diamond diadem given as a wedding present. Her tiara began as a gift from a Belgian bank to Josephine-Charlotte of Belgium on her marriage to Jean of Luxembourg in 1953. It's a set of diamond scrolls that sparkles and then some.  But then the whole evening was a sparkling success. Yes, we can wish wistfully that Princess Charlene of Monaco had come so we could see one of her diadems in action or that Spain had found someone to represent them at this gala do for another tiara triumph but when there's this many sparklers on show, that just seems greedy. It's a rare treat to see so many royal ladies together at a tiara do so let's enjoy the spring treat that is the 80th birthday party and get dazzled by diamonds on a balcony.


Popular posts from this blog

Princess Eugenie in Harper's Bazaar

The House of Windsor at 100: daughters of the Crown

16 royal birthdays for January 2018