May 1962! European royalty is gathered in Athens’s Royal Palace. King Paul and
the Queen Frederika’s eldest daughter, Princess Sophie, is getting married to the
Prince of Spain, Don Juan Carlos of Bourbon.
The men are in uniform wearing their decorations while the women are dressed
in ball gowns and tiaras. Queen Juliana of the Netherlands, her husband, Prince
Bernhard and two of their daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Irène are in
attendance, as well as the Queen of Denmark and the King of Norway. The
Grand Dukes and heirs of Luxembourg, Princes of Monaco and Liechtenstein and
Princess Alexandra of Kent are also present, as well as a great number of exhiled
monarchs, whose Kingdoms have collapsed as a result of the two World Wars.
King Umberto of Italy and the Queen Marie Josée lead the wedding procession.
They are followed by King Michel and Queen Anne of Romania, the Duke and
Duchess of Braganza, and of course the entire Spanish Royal Family including the
groom, the Prince Juan Carlos.
While his family is living in exile in Switzerland and in Portugal, the Prince has
been authorized to remain in Spain by General Franco who has given his approval
for the marriage to the Greek princess.
Among the party there is also the pretender to the Brazilian throne, Prince Pedro,
alongside his wife Princess Esperanza d’Orléans-Braganza. The Princess is the
sister of the Countess of Barcelona, the mother of the groom, and she wears this
diamond tiara which belongs to her mother, the Infanta Louise of Spain (pictured).
Born Princess of France, Louise was the youngest of four daughters to the first
Duke of Paris, grandson of the last French king, Louis Philippe. Born in France in
1882, she was exiled at the age of four, when the French republic decided to expell
her father. In 1907, she married Infante Carlos of Spain, a prince from the House
of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, who became a widower following his first marriage to the
hereditary Princess of Spain.
This diamond tiara was given to Princess Louise shorty after it was made during
the first years of the 20th century. Its crescent moon shape is reminiscent of
other royal tiaras. The first, with diamonds and pearls, was given by King George
V and his wife Queen Mary to their niece, Princess Alexandra of Fife when she
married her cousin, the Prince Arthur of Connaught, in 1913. The jewel was signed
by Garrard, one of the jewellers to the British Crown. A second, very similar, with
turquoise and diamonds, was gifted in 1926 by the same king, King George V,
to his daughter-in-law, Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon, future Duchess of York. The
young Duchess transformed it by removing the upper row of diamonds that
“closed” the jewel. It is possible that the Infanta Louise’s tiara has the same British
provenance. As well as the style of the jewel, two other factors also suggest this
heritage. The French Royal Family have lived in exile in England for over twenty
years, and for this reason the wedding of Princess Louise and Infante Carlos
took place at Wood Norton Manor in Worcestershire. Additionally, at that time
the French Royal Family is very closely linked to the British Royal Family. Queen
Alexandra and two of her daughters, the Duchess of Fife and Princess Victoria, are
in attendance at Louise’s wedding.
Following Louise’s death in 1958, her youngest daughter, Esperanza, inherits the
tiara which she wore to the wedding in Athens. In 1982, the jewel was offered
at auction by her eldest daughter, the Princess Maria da Glória, then hereditary
Princess of Yugoslavia.