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Royal Spanish Tiaras: Queen Ena’s Pearl and Diamond Tiara

What is it about mothers and daughters-in-law? Especially royal mothers? Poor Queen Ena. Her MIL, Queen Maria Cristina, was quite the the critic. No matter that Ena (whose real name was Princess Victoria Eugenie) was a direct descendant of Prince Albert and Queen Victoria (their granddaughter, to be exact). Queen Maria Cristina was born a Habsburg archduchess and she had her mind made up that her son would be marrying one of his Habsburg cousins. But cupid had other plans and so it was a Battenberg princess that won his heart.
Spanish Royal Tiaras: Queen Ena's Pearl and Diamond Tiara
Queen Ena in her remodeled Pearl and Diamond Tiara

What is it about mothers and daughters-in-law? Especially royal mothers? Poor Queen Ena. Her MIL, Queen Maria Cristina, was quite the the critic. No matter that Ena (whose real name was Princess Victoria Eugenie) was a direct descendant of Prince Albert and Queen Victoria (their granddaughter, to be exact). Queen Maria Cristina was born a Habsburg archduchess and she had her mind made up that her son would be marrying one of his Habsburg cousins. But cupid had other plans and so it was a Battenberg princess that won his heart.

King Alfonso XIII and Queen Ena of Spain.

The Queen finally acquiesced and perhaps as a white flag, she offered Ena a peace offering/wedding present in the form of a diamond and pearl tiara. If it was to win over the young princess, it didn’t appear to work. There’s only one known photograph of the tiara and she did not wear it in her 1906 wedding to King Alfonso XIII of Spain. In fact, in the 1920’s she handed the original piece off to Cartier to rework it and what came back was what we know today as Queen Ena’s Pearl and Diamond Tiara.

Spanish Royal Tiaras: Queen Ena's Pearl and Diamond Tiara
The original pearl and diamond tiara – a wedding gift to Ena from her mother-in-law.

I have to say the original take, a simple diamond and pearl tiara with a heart motif (see, Maybe the Queen really was trying to win over Ena’s “heart”), wasn’t really a statement piece. But tiara 2.0? Now that’s a tiara! One that rivals another stunning sparkler of Ena’s, her Aquamarine Tiara.

Spanish Royal Tiaras: Queen Ena's Pearl and Diamond Tiara
The Pearl and Diamond Tiara in all its glory.

Made of diamonds set in platinum (which was still a relatively novel and fashionable metal for jewelry use at that time), the tiara has eight large natural pearls set in the center of large laurel-like scroll elements encrusted with diamonds.

Spanish Royal Tiaras: Queen Ena's Pearl and Diamond Tiara
Queen Ena and her tiara with the emeralds inset

Sometimes Ena would add an additional pearl button to the top of the piece. And yet other times, she would replace the pearls (which were removable) with emeralds and wear it with other emerald jewelry pieces inherited from Empress Eugenie of France. Once exiled, Ena’s emerald jewelry was sold off. However the tiara with its pearls remained.

Spanish Royal Tiaras: Queen Ena's Pearl and Diamond Tiara
Queen Sofia wearing the Pearl and Diamond Tiara.

When Ena died, she left the tiara to one of her daughters, Infanta Maria Cristina. Maria Cristina married an Italian Count, so for a period of time, the tiara left Spain. However, after her death in 1996, the tiara was once again back on a Spanish Queen’s head. It’s not clear if King Juan Carlos purchased the tiara for his wife or if it was inherited, but it was clearly back home!

Spanish Royal Tiaras: Queen Ena's Pearl and Diamond Tiara
The original pearl and diamond tiara – a wedding gift to Ena from her mother-in-law.

Queen Sofia loaned it out only once that we know of before her husband abdicated the throne and that was to her own daughter, Infanta Cristina in 2010. But since, we’ve seen Queen Letizia, the current Queen, wearing the stunning piece. Queen Sofia rarely wears a tiara these days, and so I think we’re pretty lucky that this masterpiece was passed on with the crown.

Spanish Royal Tiaras: Queen Ena's Pearl and Diamond Tiara
Queen Letizia wearing the royal tiara, as handed down by her mother-in-law (but those earrings though!!!).

What do you think of the Queen Ena’s Pearl and Diamond Tiara and its giant pearls? Love it? Hate it? Tell me in the comments!

Comments

10 Responses

  1. PS I wish there were more photos with up close details of the original tiara. From what I can see the remake is a thousand leagues ahead but I love seeing tiaras period even ones that don’t suit my fancy

  2. I was actually just looking over some Chaumet tiaras yesterday and they actually had one shown that looked an awful lot like this one. I thought it was maybe inspired by Queen Ena’s, but thr Chaumet tiara pre-dates this one. It was owned by a lesser known royal or maybe ducal family. Maybe that tiara is what Queen Ena’s design was based on

    1. I have read that often one of the royals would see a tiara on someone else and request one similar to be made. And I’m guessing that the folks making them liked reusing some motifs that were big hits with others. Makes it easier that recreating the wheel each time. Or rather, the tiara.

  3. Smart to have interchangeable pieces. There should be every color stone available to insert so it matches any occasion and outfit! Tiaras that transform into necklaces, brooches, and bracelets are smart as well.

  4. Not to change the subject but I am curious as to what King Alfonso XIII is wearing on his right wrist?

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