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The colourful tiara given to a princess by a billionaire

The only ruby tiara in the Spanish Royal Family’s collection is the Niarchos Ruby Bandeau and its accompanying parure.

Princess Sophia of Greece and Denmark received a treasure trove of jewels on her wedding day in 1962. In addition to the Prussian Tiara, a gift from her parents (King Paul and Queen Frederica of Greece); the Mellerio Shell Tiara, a gift from her in-laws (Infante Juan and Infanta María); and the Spanish Floral Tiara, a gift from Generalísimo Francisco Franco (the dictator of Spain who had ruled since 1939); she also received a ruby and diamond bandeau and parure from Greek shipping tycoon, Stavros Niarchos, a man worth billions of dollars.

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The bandeau tiara s a series of ruby and diamond clusters — the rubies are cabochon rubies — and every other cluster features an additional row of rubies along the outside that are separate by diamond links.

The bandeau tiara was created by renowned jewellers Van Cleef & Arpels and can be worn in one row or two, and Queen Sofía has also worn it atop a velvet band to add height to it, as well. Queen Sofía also received necklaces and bracelets of varying length and a pair of earrings to complete the parure.

This cluster of rubies and diamonds can be fashioned into a bandeau of either one or two rows and has also been placed onto a velvet band to add height to it.

Although Queen Sofía doesn’t wear this bandeau tiara much anymore, she wore it on one of the most important days of her royal life: the day her husband, King Juan Carlos, became the King of Spain in 1975.

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In 1969, Generalísimo Francisco Franco had designated Infante Juan Carlos as his heir, bypassing his father, Juan, in the hopes that Juan Carlos would continue with his political regime. This was not to be, and in 1975, on 22 November, King Juan Carlos was proclaimed with his wife, Queen Sofía, decked in rubies at his side.

Queen Sofía has been the only Spanish royal to wear the Niarchos Ruby Bandeau.

About author

Jess Ilse is the Assistant Editor at Royal Central. She specialises in the British, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish Royal Families and has been following royalty since Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee. Jess has provided commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Jess works in communications and her debut novel THE MAJESTIC SISTERS will publish in Fall 2024.