tiara time! the Cameo Tiara

the Cameo Tiara of Sweden has been in the Swedish Royal Family since 1832

Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend but let’s face it; diamond tiaras aren’t terribly unique in the sphere of royal headgear. Perhaps that’s why the Swedish collection holds a special place in my heart…so many nonpareil tiaras. (Remember the Leuchtenberg Sapphire Parure? Matching sapphire hairpins? Be still my heart!) Yes kids, today’s tiara also hails from the land of the Nobel Prize, Saab and Lisbeth Salander.

The Cameo Tiara sprang once more to the public eye in 2010 with the grandiose state wedding of Crown Princess Victoria, heir to the throne of Sweden. The pearl-encrusted golden tiara features seven cameos, each depicting a different Neo-Classical scene. For clarity’s sake a cameo can be defined as:

1. a technique of engraving upon a gem or other stone, as onyx, in such a way that an underlying stone of one color is exposed as a background for a low-relief design of another color.

2. a gem or other stone so engraved.

The cameos themselves were made first early in the 19th Century when the cameo was the height of fashion. Each of the seven was made separately; they were never intended to make a set, thus the variation in size and color. These variations are what give the tiara its crown-like appearance at a cursory glance. (Actually to use modern terminology, it has an almost coronet-like appearance. A crown by modern definition has that “dip” in the center where the higher sides meet at that “button” in the middle. Medieval kings sported those “Burger King crowns”—God help me for saying that—but the standard for the official headpiece denoting a monarch has changed over the centuries. Let’s just say we’ll have a post explaining the differences.)

details the Cameo Tiara worn by Crown Princess Victoria for her wedding

a closer look at one of the oldest tiaras still in use. the aerial view proves it indeed to be a tiara and not a coronet or diadem

The areal view of Crown Princess Victoria’s up-do shows that this is indeed a tiara; see how it tapers towards the edges? It’s actually part of a parure but from what I’ve researched, the necklace and earrings are rarely seen.

Most of us know the Cameo Tiara as the traditional bridal tiara of the House of Bernadotte. Not only Queen Silvia wore it when she married King Carl Gustav in 1976 but so did two of his sisters, Princesses Brigitta and Désirée, in 1961 and 1964, respectively. Their mother, Princess Sibylla of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha received it as a wedding gift but whether she wore the Cameo Tiara as part of her wedding attire is unclear from the grainy pictures.

the Bernadotte brides in the traditional tiara

Bernadotte brides, left to right: Princess Birgitta, Princess Désirée, Queen Silvia, Crown Princess Victoria

The Cameo Tiara is first seen in a painting of Queen Hortense of Holland. Queen Hortense probably borrowed the Cameo Tiara from her mother, Empress Josephine who most likely received as a gift from Napoleon around 1809. Josephine then gave the tiara as a wedding gift to her granddaughter Josephine of Leuchtenberg. (Henceforth ‘Josephine 2’, everybody on board?)

So, just like the aforementioned Leuchtenberg Sapphires and several other baubles of great envy, the Cameo Tiara arrived in Sweden by way of Josephine 2’s marriage to the future King Oscar I in 1823. Interestingly enough, this is the last time the Cameo Tiara belonged to the Queen of Sweden for the next 153 years.

Over the next century and a half the Cameo Tiara remained in the Swedish Royal family, owned and loaned until it found its way back to the first lady of Sweden. Josephine 2 left the Cameo Tiara to her daughter, Princess Eugénie who then passed it on to her nephew: Prince Eugén, Duke of Närke. In 1932, Sibylla of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha received the Cameo upon marring Eugén’s grandnephew, Gustaf Adolf, the Duke of Västerbotten. Strangely enough, before giving it away, Eugén had previously loaned the tiara to then-Crown Princess Margaret. Sibylla herself loaned the tiara to her sister-in-law Princess Ingrid, future Queen of Denmark, for a costume party.

the Cameo tiara has graced many royal noggins over the centuries.

left to Right: Queen Hortense, Queen Josephine, Crown Princess Margaret, Princess Ingrid (later Queen of Denmark), Princess Sibylla

Eugén’s gesture could have been an effort to eventually return the tiara to the Queen of Sweden. As the king’s grandson and first-born son of the future King Gustaf VI Adolf, Gustaf Adolf was second in line to the throne at the time of his marriage. Unfortunately the Prince was killed in 1947 when his airplane crashed just after takeoff at the Copenhagen airport. Although she had four daughters, Sibylla left the tiara to her son Carl Gustav and upon his marriage in 1976 the Cameo Tiara once again belonged to the Queen of Sweden. Queen Silvia wore it on her wedding day as did her daughter Crown Princess Victoria in 2010, another future Queen of Sweden.

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About ♔ la dauphiine ♔

Connecticut-based jewelry monger, history buff, Mets fan. On the hum-drum side, call me a lauded poet, novelist and ghost-writer. (That's right, I haunt prose.)
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9 Responses to tiara time! the Cameo Tiara

  1. Pingback: Princess Grace in Empress Josephine’s Coronation Tiara « tiaras and trianon

  2. Pingback: Tiara Time!: Queen Alexandra’s Kokoshnik Tiara « tiaras and trianon

  3. Pingback: Wedding Tiaras II: the Halo Scroll Tiara « tiaras and trianon

  4. Pingback: Tiara Time: Tiaras in Motion Tend to Bling More (videos!) « tiaras and trianon

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