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Jewels for July: Denmark’s Famous Rubies

Photo: Oskar Aanmoen/Royal Central

The birthstone of July, the ruby, has been used as a symbol of royalty for centuries. Today we’re looking at the history behind the most famous ruby tiara in the Danish Royal Family’s collection: the Danish Ruby Parure.

Now most closely associated with Crown Princess Mary, who has worn the tiara exclusively since her 2004 wedding, the Danish Ruby Parure has been used by a long line of European queens while the stones were originally worn by one of the guests at the coronation of Napoleon as Emperor of France.

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Jean Baptiste Bernadotte gifted his wife, Desirée Clary, with a pair of hair ornaments fashioned from rubies and diamonds to wear to Emperor Napoleon’s coronation in 1804. The couple later became the King and Queen of Sweden in 1810 and took their jewels with them. The now-Queen Desirée fled back to Paris from Stockholm after finding that she didn’t enjoy her life in Scandinavia and only returned to the country when her son married. She remained in Sweden until her death in 1860, and the ruby hair ornaments were passed on to her daughter-in-law Josephine.

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Queen Josefina, as she became known, passed the rubies to her granddaughter, Louisa, on her wedding day after she married Crown Prince Frederick of Denmark in 1869. She noted the symbolism of the rubies and diamonds mimicking the Danish flag.

Queen Louisa gave the ruby hair ornaments to her daughter-in-law, Alexandrine, and she had the pieces joined together to form a bandeau that could be worn as a tiara. Queen Alexandrine apparently disliked ornate jewellery and gave the ruby parure to her daughter-in-law, Crown Princess Ingrid (later Queen Ingrid), as a wedding present in 1935.

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Queen Ingrid altered the hair ornaments once again, switching it up from a simple bandeau into a wreath tiara and kept altering it throughout her lifetime. One famous change saw her add two floral brooches into the tiara to fill it out. Upon her death in 2000, she bequeathed the ruby parure to her grandson, Crown Prince Frederik, as a set for his future wife.

Queen Ingrid never met her granddaughter-in-law Crown Princess Mary, but she has worn the tiara exclusively since her wedding in 2004. In 2010, she had the parure altered again to move some of the floral elements and make it more suited to her head shape.

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The full Danish Ruby Parure includes the tiara, a necklace, a pair of earrings, a brooch, hair ornaments, a bracelet and a ring.

About author

Jess is the Senior Royal Reporter and Editorial Assistant at Royal Central. Her interest in royalty started in her teenage years, coinciding with The Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002 and grew from there. She specializes in the British Royal Family (with emphasis on the Cambridges) and the Danish Royal Family, and has provided royal commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the UK and Australia.