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Royal Jewels in Focus: Swedish Laurel Wreath Tiara

The Swedish Laurel Wreath Tiara easily stands out among a collection of impressive Swedish pieces. Despite the classical laurel leaf motif being common among royal jewellery throughout Europe, this piece is uniquely elegant with its tall profile of double rows of diamond laurel leaves and hanging diamond centre pendant. Made by the eponymous French jewellery house, Boucheron, the Laurel Wreath Tiara can also be worn as a necklace.

A look into the history of this piece cannot occur without mention of the Welsh-born Princess Lilian -the first woman to wear the piece as a tiara, rather than a necklace as Princess Margaret of Connaught frequently did. Appropriately, this piece became commonly known as ‘Lilian’s tiara.’  Years before that, the piece was gifted to Princess Margaret of Connaught by Queen Sophia of Sweden when she married Sophia’s grandson, Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf in 1905. When Margaret died, her jewellery collection was shared throughout her family –  her son, Prince Bertil then inherited the piece from his mother.

Princess Margaret of Connaught wearing the Laurel Wreath tiara as a necklace. Photo: Bernadotte’s biblioteket (public domain) via Wikimedia Commons

When Prince Bertil, the uncle of the current King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, fell in love with Lilian Craig after meeting in 1943, they were not able to marry. Lilian was married at the time but eventually divorced – a situation not accepted in royal circles at the time.  It was also thought that Bertil would need to serve as regent after his older brother, Prince Gustaf Adolf, who was second in line to the throne, had died. The current King, Carl Gustaf was just a child at the time, and other successors had forfeited their place in line to the throne in favour of marriages that were similarly not approved of by the King.

Bertil shared the jewels that he had inherited with Lilian, and she was first seen wearing this piece in 1972. In 1976, the new King Carl XVI Gustaf granted the couple permission to marry. During their relationship, Princess Lilian had access to the jewels of the Swedish Royal Family, and she famously used many of the tiaras and necklaces in the collection.

Frankie Fouganthin via WikimediaCommons, CC BY-SA 3.0

Princess Lilian lived for 16 years following Prince Bertil’s death in 1997. Upon his death, she retained the tiara as her personal property, later bequeathing it to Crown Princess Victoria upon her death in 2013. The piece was first worn by Victoria the same year during the wedding of her sister Princess Madeleine and has been worn by her on many occasions since.

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