Queen Máxima's Wedding Tiara

Queen Máxima's Wedding Tiara

Yesterday King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands celebrated their 16th wedding anniversary. Earlier this week Princess Beatrix turned 80 years old, while on January 19 Princess Margriet celebrated her 75th birthday. An appropriate moment to have a closer look at a tiara that is important to all 3 of them, because it is the one Máxima wore for her wedding, Beatrix for her inauguration and Margriet for her wedding. A recently published book on Court Jeweller Steltman contains the definitive confirmation of one of the 2 stories regarding its history.

Steltman Juwelier celebrated their 100th anniversary in 2017 with an exhibition in Gemeentemuseum Den Haag (that you can still visit until February 18) and with a book (in Dutch only but with gorgeous photography that shows the illustrious history of this jeweller), which has a whole chapter dedicated to their relationship with the Dutch Royal House. They are best known for having designed - in collaboration with King Willem-Alexander - and made Queen Máxima's engagement ring with the orange diamond in it.

Since Queen Beatrix' reign Steltman is responsible for the maintenance of the historical jewel collection of the Royal House. When Máxima married Willem-Alexander on 2-2-2002 she wore a 'new' tiara, in the sense that the combination was new: the base of the tiara was thought to be a tiara from Queen Sophie of the Netherlands, born Princess of Württemberg, dating from the early 19th century, with diamond stars from the collection of Queen Emma, born Princess of Waldeck-Pyrmont, on top of it, instead of the bouton pearl clusters - also from Queen Sophie - that used to grace the tiara until then.

New setting
Steltman is the jeweller responsible for this transition. In the book, the following is written: 'Thanks to some skillful solutions, a number of historical jewels in the collection can be demounted and easily worn in different ways. During her wedding, Queen Máxima wore a tiara with a base dating from 1965, of which the peal buttons on top were removed and temporarily replaced with diamond stars that Queen Emma received for her wedding in 1879. Thanks to the new mechanism developed in Steltman's studio, now the stars as well as the pearl buttons can be placed on the base.' 

So now we have confirmation from a credible source that when in 1965 Queen Juliana wore this tiara with the pearl buttons for the first time it was created new, although the pearl buttons are indeed from Queen Sophie's early 19th century collection. What happened with the old one? It was inherited either by her son Prince Alexander, but some jewels from Sophie's estate were sold in the late 19th century. The new set-up of the tiara makes it seem as if the stars/buttons float above the tiara. This was not the first time the House of Orange had a historical tiara 'recreated': in the 20's an almost copy of Queen Anna Pavlovna's inauguration tiara was made to accommodate the large pear pearls of which several date from the 17th century. This tiara is known on the internet as the Antique Pearl Tiara.

Left: Máxima wearing her wedding tiara at the wedding of Princess Märtha Louise of Norway and Ari Behn in 2002. 

Below: Sophie of Württemberg as young Queen, around 1849 with the tiara after which the current one was modelled. Portrait by Nic. de Keyser.


Posted on 02/02/2018 by Erik