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The tragic empress, the princess bride and a priceless tiara that became a symbol of royal romance

Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel, 2010

It’s among the most unusual pieces in any royal collection and, in recent years, it’s acquired a reputation as the go to tiara for Sweden’s royal brides. The diadem now known as ‘the Cameo’ has a long and romantic history. And since Queen Silvia and Crown Princess Victoria both wore it for their wedding, it’s become the tiara associated with the most royal of Swedish royal weddings. But it has a significance aside from that as the Queen of Sweden showed when she wore it for an important State Dinner in honour of the President of France.

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Appropriately for a piece now linked to a queen and a future queen, it first belonged to an empress. The cameos in this tiara are thought to have been made for Josephine during the last years of her famous marriage to Napoleon. The biggest and most beautiful of the cameos, now sitting at the centre of the diademn, represents a scene from the famous story of Cupid and Psyche. The gems first came to Sweden via Josephine’s namesake granddaughter on her marriage to the country’s first King Oscar. The couple went through a proxy wedding ceremony in March 1823 before marrying in person on June 19th 1823 in Stockholm.

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Queen Josephine left the tiara to her only daughter, Eugenie, who had no children and it went round the family houses until it was presented to Princess Sybilla, mother of King Carl XVI Gustaf. And that’s where the modern wedding connections start.

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Two of Sybilla’s four daughters wore the tiara for their weddings. Princess Birgitta began the trend when she wed Johan Georg of Hohenzollern in 1961. Three years later, her younger sister, Princess Desiree, followed suit. Princess Sybilla passed away in 1972, leaving the tiara to her only son who became King of Sweden the following year. When he got married in 1976, his bride chose the Cameo Tiara for her wedding, perhaps as a nod to her new husband’s mother.

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Silvia Sommerlath’s decision to wear the Cameo Tiara on the day she became Queen of Sweden added a whole new layer of royal significance to this unusual piece. It became the first diadem of a new consort’s reign. Its place as the most royal of wedding tiaras was cemented in 2010 when her eldest child, and heir to the throne, followed mum’s lead.

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Crown Princess Victoria wore the tiara for her own marriage to Daniel Westling on June 19th 2010, exactly 34 years after her mother and father’s wedding. It underlined the dynastic links of a tiara born from one of the most famous romances in history and which is now linked to some of the most important marriages in Sweden’s royal present.

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.