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Royal Spanish Tiaras: The Prussian Tiara

Royal Spanish Tiaras: The Prussian Tiara
The original owner of The Prussian Tiara, Princess Victoria Louise of Prussia.

Every young princess needs a starter tiara. It’s just a fact. But there are rules. It can’t be too over the top or ornate. That would be gauche and tacky. It should be simple and elegant and something that can be used on the reg. Who better to understand that than said young princess’ parents? Which is likely why Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and his wife presented this tiara to their only daughter and youngest child, Princess Victoria Louise of Prussia. Her parents are on the throne in Germany and her great grandmother? None other than Queen Victoria. The girl needed a tiara.

Royal Spanish Tiaras: The Prussian Tiara
The Prussian Tiara

As would have been customary at the time, the young woman is not presented with nor in need of a tiara until she decides to marry. And that’s exactly when her parents had this tiara commissioned. Once she and Prince Ernst August, the grandson of the last king of Hanover, announce their engagement, tiara preparations began.

Royal Spanish Tiaras: The Prussian Tiara
Princess Friederike wearing The Prussian Tiara.

And what a wedding it was. Little did they know at the time, but it would be one of the last great gatherings of royals before the outbreak of WWI. There were over 1000 people in attendance, including George the V and Mary, who were both cousins of both the bride and the groom (eeek).

Royal Spanish Tiaras: The Prussian Tiara
Princess Sophia of Greece and Denmark, wearing the Prussian Tiara.

The court jeweler, Koch, was commissioned to make a tiara in the kokoshnik style, incorporating many of the popular tiara themes of the time: laurel wreaths, a meander, an en tremblant pendant drop. The standard stuff of tiaras. In honor of Victoria Louise’s family (and to take some Prussian heritage with her), the tiara is called the Prussian Tiara. And even though the Duke can’t reign in Hanover (kind of thanks to his bride’s family), he does still hold a dukedom from each side of his family. So, a few months after the wedding, Ernst August succeeds to the Brunswick dukedom, and Victoria Louise, now the Duchess of Brunswick, takes the tiara with her.

Royal Spanish Tiaras: The Prussian Tiara
Queen Sofia at her wedding, wearing The Prussian Tiara.

Victoria Louise and Ernst August have a daughter, Princess Friederike. Who just happens to fall in love with Prince Paul of Greece. He’s set to become the heir to the Greek throne and as luck would have it, the tiara given to Friderike’s mother has some hellenic style to it. And it doesn’t hurt that Friederike is their only daughter, so of course this tiara will become hers. Her mother gives it to her as a wedding gift when she marries Paul in Athens.

Royal Spanish Tiaras: The Prussian Tiara
Queen Sofia and Juan Carlos in an official state photograph, in which she’s wearing The Prussian Tiara.

Ten months later…. Friederike has a daughter, Sophia. And then Friederike and Paul become the king and queen of the Hellenes and that meander motif (also known as a “Greek Key”) comes in quite handy. Apparently the Queen was quite the match maker and organized a cruise through the Greek Isles in 1954, inviting a number of young royals. Her daughter is of marrying age and happens to meet Infante Juan Carlos of Spain. His family is in exile, but he’s still the son of potential king. Their engagement is announced but did her parents realize that she was going to make some big changes? She converts to Roman Catholicism AND she switches the spelling of her name to the Spanish version: Sofia <insert a gasp here>.

Royal Spanish Tiaras: The Prussian Tiara
Infanta Cristina wearing The Prussian Tiara at a State Dinner.

They marry in Athens and, as had become the tradition, her mother gifts Sofia with the Prussian Tiara as a wedding present. Eventually Sofia and Juan Carlos become the Prince and Princess of Spain and then still further down the line, the King and Queen of Spain. Sofia is generous with the loaning of the tiara – both of her daughters wore it to various state banquets.

Royal Spanish Tiaras: The Prussian Tiara
Queen Letizia wearing The Prussian Tiara in her wedding.

But the tiara has yet another life. Sofia and Juan Carlos’ only son, Prince Felipe, marries Spanish journalist, Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano in 2004, and Sofia loans Letizia the tiara for their nuptials. She borrows the tiara on a number of occasions each year, until her father-in-law abdicates the throne and Juan Carlos becomes King. Now the tiara is passed on to her and it seems to be one of her favorites, as she’s worn it often.

Royal Spanish Tiaras: The Prussian Tiara
Queen Letizia (then Princess Asturias) wearing The Prussian Tiara, on loan from her mother-in-law, Queen Sofia.

It’s fun to see the how a tiara moves from family to family, as the young women wearing it married and moved to new kingdoms to be with their princes. What do you think? Is it appropriate as a “starter tiara”? Should Letizia keep it in rotation or loan it to one or both of her daughters for royal functions? Share your thoughts with me in the comments.


14 Responses

  1. Interesting article. Thanks. A correction: Juan Carlos is Letizia’s father-in-law. His son (her husband) Felipe became king when Juan Carlos abdicated. Of course, Letizia became queen.

    1. Shoot. Did I state that wrong in here somewhere. I’ll have to go correct it. I’m usually writing these pretty late on a Monday night after a long workday, so sometimes, I misspeak. Thanks for catching it. ~WendyKate

  2. She should give it to her granddaughter Princess Leanore since she will be Queen Regnant one day.

  3. I think that Letiza should pass the tiera to her family, and her husband commission a new one for his lovely wife, sort of a motherly version, all sparkling together to represent their royal heritage.

  4. I really feel privileged to read about the tiaras. The tradition of gifting it through the generations is heartwarming and I believe each princess or queen feels honoured to be the wearer of these stunning pieces of artwork.

  5. I really enjoy your writings. You make history come alive with so much insight. Thank you

    1. *blushing* Thank you so much, Patricia. I love researching and writing about all of these things, so it thrills me when others enjoy them. Thanks for reading.

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