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The romantic tiara given by a king to a princess that caused a royal family drama

All royal jewels have interesting stories attached to them. From modern designs to the historic pieces that have accompanied monarchies through centuries, every royal gem tells a tale. And one pretty tiara that has become a favourite of a popular queen has an intriguing story that involves love, lost titles and a rather disappointed prince.

The tiara in question is a stunning ruby and diamond piece that now belongs to the Swedish royal family. It’s just over a century old and, in that time, a rather dramatic story involving romance and family feuds has developed around it.

It was actually a wedding gift from a king and queen to a princess who had her own hopes of a throne on the day she said ‘I do’. In June 1905, Princess Margaret of Connaught married Gustaf Adolf of Sweden, then second in line to his country’s throne. Her path to a royal wedding had been a strange mix of old fashioned regal match making and full on romance.

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Margaret was the niece of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra and uncle Bertie, as the family called him, wanted his female relations to do what princesses had been doing for centuries – marry well and increase dynastic ties. He’d sent Margaret and her sister, Patricia, off to meet various available royals and, as 1905 got under way, they’d ran into Gustaf Adolf. The Swedish prince and the British princess fell madly in love and in June that year, Margaret married Gustaf Adolf at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor.

Uncle Bertie was delighted. As was usual with royal weddings at the time, the gift list was mostly jewels for the bride and Margaret was given a stunning present by her proud uncle. Margaret’s new husband was in direct line to the throne of Sweden so the jewels given to her were intended to be grand enough for her future roles as Crown Princess and, eventually, queen. King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra settled on rubies and diamonds for this consort in waiting.

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They commissioned E. Wolff & Co to create something spectacular for Margaret. They came up with a tiara made of a scrolling diamond design, studded with rubies. There are bright red stones dotted along the base and then a large ruby in each of the three towering scrolls that rise from it. It looked spectacular but there was another message in this diadem. For the three largest scrolls actually form hearts. The tiara was very royal but also very romantic – ideal for a princess who had happened to fall in love with a man destined to be a king.

Sadly, Margaret never became Queen of Sweden. Her marriage was a happy one and she and her husband had five children. They became Crown Prince and Princess of Sweden in 1907 when Gustaf Adolf’s father succeeded to the throne as King Gustaf V. In 1920, they were expecting their sixth child when Margaret suddenly fell ill. She died of sepsis on May 1st 1920. The Crown Princess had been a hugely popular figure and as news of her passing was announced, Sweden’s prime minister said ”the ray of sunshine at Stockholm Palace has gone out”.

Her children were still young when they lost her mother but Margaret’s jewels were divided among them. The ruby and diamond tiara was put aside for her second son, Sigvard, who was 12 at the time. And that’s where the drama begins.

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Prince Sigvard took possession of the tiara as an adult and it soon became part of a story of family divisions. Sweden’s royals were still expected to marry other royals but in 1934, Sigvard wed Erica Patzek who had no title. As a consequence, he lost his royal status and titles, much to his disdain. He became Mr Sigvard Bernadotte and established a successful career as a silver designer.

In fact, Sigvard would marry three times in total and none of his wives were royal. And in the midst of this family drama was the romantic tiara that had come to him from his much missed mother. In the end, Sigvard sold it to his father who had become King Gustaf VI Adolf in 1950. However, Sigvard later claimed that he had only loaned it to papa. In the end, King Gustaf VI Adolf left the tiara to Sigvard’s only son, Michael, in his will and it passed out of the royal family again in 1973.

It wasn’t absent for long and, decades after it was bought for a consort to wear, it became the tiara of a queen. Michael eventually sold the tiara to his cousin, King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, and Queen Silvia has made it a favourite ever since. She’s worn it to State Banquets and gala events.

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In fact, Queen Silvia is the only member of the current Swedish royal family to have worn the tiara. Its future fate remains unknown. It seems likely that Silvia will make it part of the royal collection and, in time, it will be worn by her own daughter, Victoria, currently Crown Princess.

If that does happen, the tiara bought for a consort will take on another royal chapter and become the diadem of a queen regnant. Quite an ending for a diadem designed to highlight the romance of a royal wedding that began with dynastic designs.

can also be worn as necklace by removing it from its base. Queen Silvia has worn it as both a necklace and tiara.

About author

Lydia Starbuck is Jubilee and Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton who is a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. Her latest book, A History of British Royal Jubilees, is out now. Her new book, The Mysterious Death of Katherine Parr, will be published in March 2024. June is an award winning reporter, producer and editor. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.