The Khedive of Egypt Tiara: a Tale of Three Generations of Royal Brides (Tiara Time!)

Khedive of Egypt Tiara

Aficionados of spirals and scalloping rejoice! Rejoice extra if you love diamonds…so that’s pretty much all of us. Note to self: bumper sticker reading “Honk if you Love Tiaras.” Hell, honk if you love weddings, wedding dresses and love stories. Today’s tiara tells more than just the hand-me-down history of some jewellery; it’s the story of four generations of daughters.

Bumper-slogan hilarity aside, the Khedive of Egypt tiara is a 1905 Cartier concerto in diamonds and platinum. Behold ye, above: the Khedive in its current incarnation. Compare and contrast with below; the original did not have that booster base. Queen Anne-Marie of Greece beefed the tiara up after inheriting it from her mother, Queen Ingrid of Denmark.

Khedive Tiara Original w/o base

Yep, this is one of those well-travelled tiaras; owned personally, not part of the state crown jewels. They make you give those kind back.

Unlike most tiaras named for a specific person, the Khedive of Egypt tiara’s moniker reflects not the original owner but he who bestowed the gift. It’s the thought that counts! Ha ha! A wedding gift from Khedive Abbas II of Egypt to Princess Margaret of Connaught in honor of her nuptials to Crown Prince Gustavus Adolf of Sweden. Connaught’s corona was really romantic coinciding she and Gustavus first met in Egypt.

crown-princess-margaret-with-Khedive-tiara-as-stomacher.jpegKhedive Abbas also gave the gift of multi-functionality; another transformer tiara, the Khedive makes a flexible stomacher. We consent the argument for brooches but stomachers! We defy you to find one woman wearing a stomacher nowadays. One out of how many billion? See? Can’t be done. For Us the modern equivalent of a scullery maid, the oil-painting (right) of Crown Princess Margaret simply says “See, honey, this is how you wear that.” Heh, like oil paintings can be snarky. Well, maybe Dorian Grey…

In 1920, following a mastoiditis operation, the crown princess caught an infection and died June 1. At the time, Margaret of  Connaught was pregnant with her sixth child. She never saw her husband crowned. The Khedive of Egypt tiara was handed down to Princess Ingrid.

off to denmark with Princess Ingrid.

Ingrid of Sweden married the one-day-king Frederik XI of Denmark in 1935. It was the media event of the year in Sweden, to the point where criticism was drawn for so much coverage of another country’s royal family. Princess Ingrid went to Denmark so naturally the Khedive of Egypt went to Denmark too, Worn so frequently as both crown princess and Queen of Denmark, Ingrid’s many looks demanded a cinematic montage!

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Check out how often Ingrid pairs the Khedive of Egypt tiara with layered pearl strands. We like it better with the shorter necklaces. If We can find ten photos without breaking a sweat it stands to reason Queen Ingrid wore it often, maybe it was her favorite. It would certainly be one of Ours. finger pyramid of evil contemplation. The diadem looks like it rests comfortably on the head too. No wonder she wore it so often.

Margaretha of Sweden KhediveRumor has it the Danish royal family won’t play well with others when it comes to their diadems, especially today under Queen Margrethe. (I’m imagining adult women in a castle screaming “Stop touching my stuff!” from another room. Hee.) Queen Ingrid was a bit more giving–er–a bit more loaning with her bling. Maybe it took her so long to loan it out as the Khedive had previously only haloed queens. The Cartier masterpiece was first “fairy god-mothered” in 1959. Yeah that’s right, We invented a verb. Ingrid loaned it to her niece, Princess Margaretha of Sweden (left), when she visited Denmark for her first cousin’s then-Princess Margrethe’s 18th birthday festivities. Guess the sharing gave Queen Ingrid a warm and fuzzy feeling, inadvertently starting a new tradition. She loaned the Khedive corona to each of  her three daughters for their wedding day.

princess anne-marie and king constantinos II

We have an inexplicable preconceived notion that siblings marry in chronological order, a theory which does not apply to the Ingrid’s three princesses. Anne-Marie, the youngest, was the first to marry in 1964. In a traditional Greek Orthodox ceremony, Anne-Marie of Denmark and King Constantinos II wed in the Metropolis, the Greek Orthodox cathedral of Athens.  anne marie and constantine of greece weddinganne marie and constantine of greece weddingThe couple are third-cousins; sharing both a paternal great-great-grandfather and a maternal great-great-grandmother. (Constantine is also a prince of Denmark by birth. Don’t ask me how that works.)  The couple first met in 1959 when Anne-Marie was 13. The crown prince accompanied his parents, King Paul and Queen Frederika to Denmark on a state visit. The third cousins met a second time in 1962, when Constantine announced his intention to marry Anne-Marie. In March of 1964, Constantine succeeded his late father Paul as King of the Hellenes. The royal engagement was announced officially in July 1964. (Were they just ‘pre-engaged’ before that?) Anne-Marie and Constantine were married on September 18th 1964, just two weeks after Anne-Marie’s 18th birthday. (Whoo, way to keep it legal, your majesty!) Check out the grin on Constantinos’ face. Ha ha! Got her! She’s all mine! We are also huge fans of the “crown ritual” during an orthodox ceremony. It’s tiara-on-crown action! HOT!

crown princess margrethe and henri, comte de laborde de mospezat

Queen Margrethe of Denmark weddingMargrethe was officially made heiress presumptive in 1959 after Parliament amended the laws of succession. Her father began the process in 1947 when it became clear that Queen Ingrid would not be having more children. The year 1967 saw another Khedive of Egypt princess bride and a spectacular state wedding, the norm for a future monarch. The future queen married French ambassador Henri Marie Jean André, Count de Laborde de Mospezat. Henri’s name was Danicised (yes, it’s a word) to Henrik (cooler) upon marrying the crown princess and was dubbed HRH Prince Henrik of Denmark. Holy public appearances, Batman. That’s what a state wedding for a crown princess is: a ton of waving from balconies and carriages

Margrethe’s dress is amazing and may win my vote for best royal wedding dress ever. I love that brooch that she’s centered on the bodice and you can never go wrong with a timeless princess-cut dress.

princess benedikte and prince richard of sayn-wittenstein-berleberg

Princess Benedikte of Denmark WeddingThe middle-princess, Benedikte, was the last to marry in 1968. Benedikte married Prince Richard of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg (yeah, just try to not-typo that surname.) Sayn-Wittengenstein-Berleburg is a German princely house of which Richard is the 6th Prince, styled as serene highness instead of royal highness. When the Richard and Benedikte tied the knot, King Frederik decreed that the children must be raised in Denmark to be in line to the throne. The Prince and Princess chose the opposite, raising the kids in the land of good-luck-fitting-that-in-the-SAT-name-sheet-boxes: Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleberg. Consequently, Benedikte’s three children are only styled as highness. Being bumped from the chain of succession does not preclude wearing the Khedive of Egypt tiara atop the bridal melon. So far, every one of Queen Ingrid’s granddaughters has worn the Khedive for their wedding. Both of Princess Benedikte’s daughters and Queen Anne-Marie’s eldest daughter, Princess Alexia have all joined the family tiara tree.

In our opinion, the Khedive of Egypt eclipses the Cameo Tiara of Sweden as far as family tradition. (Madeleine did skip on the Cameo, if you recall.) Every last female descendant of Ingrid’s has anchored her wedding veil with the swirling headpiece. The most fabulous trait the granddaughters share with their mothers? Superb taste in wedding gowns. Like mothers like daughters I suppose.

princess alexandra of sayn-wittengenstein-berleburg & count joseph von pfeil ind klein-ellguth

princess alexandra of sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg weddingIn 1998, Princess Alexandra, eldest daughter of Princess Benedikte, married Count Joseph von Pfeil ind Klein-Ellguth in Gråsten Palace, a summertime favorite of the Danish royal family, on the Jutland peninsula. I wonder if the site was symbolic as both Danish and Germanic lands share Jutland. I really dig how Alexandra’s dress is all about the cut of the fabric, no adornment, monochromatic. Save the tulip sleeves, the entire gown is clean lines. Brava, Sandy!

Princess Alexia of Greece & Carlos Morales

Princess Alexia of Greece wedding khedive tiara

In 1999, Ingrid loaned the Khedive to a second granddaughter, Queen Anne Marie’s eldest daughter. Princess Alexia married Carlos Morales. If you take a look, you can see how the tiara indeed sits lower, still in it’s original version. The buttons down the back really do it for me. The front? Not as big of a fan but again, monochromatic with clean lines, just like Cousin Alexandra and Aunt Anne-Marie.

Princess Natalie of sayn-wittengenstein-berleburg and Alexander Johannsmann

princess nathalie of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg weddingPrincess Nathalie of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg scores a bridal 9.9 using the traditional IOC Gymnastics scoring scale. (This new system ruined the sport…don’t get me started!) Princess Benedikte’s younger daughter’s score is a composite of one helluva dress and the best expressions We’ve ever seen on a bride. It goes without saying that Nathalie shouldn’t play poker; her Highness has about 40 tells! The ivory-satin gown was made by Danish designer Henrik Hviid. Although the bodice, sash and skirt all flaunt a different pattern, the combinations sings in harmony rather than a cacophonous clash. Just daring enough fashionably and clearly having the Princess Nathalie zu Sayn Wittgenstein Berleburg Weddingtime of her life on her wedding day, I may even go out on a limb and say she’s runner-up to Queen Anne-Marie herself for excellence in Danish brides. Besides, don’t the blue umbrellas just make your heart melt?

Nathalie wed Alexander Johannsmann. a German horse breeder, civilly in May 2010. (Their marriage makes sense as the princess was an alternate on the Danish Olympic team for Dressage in 2000, won Bronze at the European Championship in 2001 and then bronze-medaled again at the 2008 London Olympics.) Here we see the religious ceremony the following year, on 18 June 2011, at the Evangelic Stadtkirche in Berleburg, Germany.

We didn’t mention it before, but did you notice that all six brides wore the same veil? Not only is the Khedive of Egypt tiara a family custom, the Danish Royal family antique Irish lace veil is also a tradition. (Go on and have a look back at the brides. We’ll wait here…)

From Denmark to Greece then set to wander

The Khedive of Egypt tiara remained in Denmark as Queen Ingrid’s personal property until she died in 2000. (Think Fabiola and the Spanish Wedding Gift tiara; hers not the state’s.) Ingrid had many personally owned jewels and did not leave the entire cache to her oldest daughter Margrethe. Instead the Khedive was inherited by the youngest, Anne-Marie of the Hellenes. The tiara traversed Europe to yet again, making it one of the best-travelled tiaras of the Khedive-of-Egypt-Tiara-close.jpgTwentieth Century. Queen Anne-Marie added the more substantial base, explaining why the tiara has a different look in more recent photos.

Now that the  Greek Royal family has been deposed, many worry about the Khedive of Egypt tiara’s fate. As the Hellenes have connections to many other royal houses, it will definitely turn up at tiara events across Europe even though the Hellenes are a monarchy without a country. As with all pretenders and active nobility alike, there lurks the fear that the tiara will be sold when money grows scarce or inheritance taxes too high. An inconvenient fate that befell Ena’s Aquamarine tiara as well as the Poltimore tiara and the Rosenborg Kokoshnik tiara.

A fate to which many assumed Queen Frederika’s tiara, a staggering edifice of diamonds, had succumbed only to see it resurface more than 20 years later at Queen Margrethe’s Ruby Jubilee atop Crown Princess Marie Chantal’s noggin in 2012. That’s a comfort.

Who wore it best?

Thus We wait for Princess Theodora to round out the tradition as the last of Ingrid’s granddaughters. As Anne-Marie’s youngest is currently living in Los Angeles pursuing a career in acting. (Credited as “Theodora Grace,” the princess has appeared on the soap opera, the Bold and the Beautiful.) We get the impression that the wedding may be a long time coming. Then again, We’ll be waiting even longer for the Khedive Tradition to resume with Ingrid’s great-grandaughters.

Well? Who gets your vote for best-dressed of the brides? Why? Do you agree that Anne-Marie’s dress was epic or is that brooch in too weird of a place for you? Opinions, please! We know your got ’em!


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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12 Responses to The Khedive of Egypt Tiara: a Tale of Three Generations of Royal Brides (Tiara Time!)

  1. Angelyn says:

    I agree that the 1960s wedding gowns were the finest–good tailoring and classic, clean (Danish!).

    A beautiful tiara, but I enjoyed the hilarious asides the most: finger pyramid of evil, good-luck-fitting-that-in-the-SAT-name-sheet-boxes, Stop touching my stuff!”

    I’m such a dork that way.

    Tweeted and facebooked!


  2. I love your tiara stories. Your asides are a scream! I do like the 60s dresses, as I was a 60s bride with similar gown.


  3. Titanic Buff says:

    I absolutely love Margrethe’s dress; simple but all elegance.And the hair-do tweren’t too shabby either.


    • I know! Margrethe’s dress has been voted “favorite royal bride” by other websites too! Can you blame them!? I know very few girls want to wear their mom’s wedding gown, but for this one I’d make an exception! I just adore the placement of the brooch, in the dead center like that: it’s exactly the kind of thing I’d do!

      [ps – on an unrelated note, guess who got her pic taken on the Grand Staircase just for you? Yeah, now I just have to find a way to scan it in….]


  4. aubrey says:

    I do like the photo of Princess Benedikte – the one with her eyes lowered. It could be the position of her head, but the veil seems to give some extra height to the tiara, rather than sloughing off to the sides.

    But it’s the painted portrait for me: Crown Princess Margaret looks petulant and sad; but her gown is a lovely color, her hair is soft and extravagant and her veil is around her shoulders, letting the tiara have all the glory.


    • Good Monday Aubrey! (Like that exists…heh.) I agree with you that Benedikte’s got the superior “tiara perch,” shall we call it? That’s also before Anne-Marie added the “booster seat,” so good job Benedikte! (Also, Isn’t her name so fun to type?!)

      I also love that eyes-lowered candid pic myself. So intimate, I always wonder what they’re talking about. I know that’s Queen Ingrid on the right, I can’t pinpoint who’s on the left though.

      As far as Crown Princess Margaret goes, yes, that portrait is killer! The brushstrokes are just texture-iffic. (Sorry for inventing such a dumb word. It is Monday.) Now–obviously–I have to blog about the other tiara in the painting: the loopy, shiny Connaught tiara.


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