Monday, November 12, 2012

Queen Astrid's Wedding Gifts

November is the anniversary month of the joyful marriage of King Leopold III and Queen Astrid. Unofficial Royalty has a delightful series of articles on the wedding celebrations, including a description of some of the gifts the bride received.
Wedding gifts began arriving in Stockholm a few weeks before the civil ceremony. The Swedish navy presented Astrid and Leopold with various pieces of silver, while the residents of the city of Stockholm gave the couple a silver and enamel tea set. A diamond and pearl tiara made by the court jeweler Andersson was also given to Astrid. This tiara, now known as the Stockholm Wedding Tiara, has not been seen in several decades. However, Leopold’s second wife, the Princess de Rethy, later wore parts of this tiara as a brooch.

Several items were displayed in Ingeborg’s drawing room before the Swedish ceremony. These gifts included an emerald and diamond necklace from Carl and Ingeborg, a diamond necklace from the Swedish king and queen, a silver and enamel coffee set from the Norwegian royals, and a portrait of the bride’s father.

Shortly before the wedding, a call for donations was made to the Belgian public to fund a national gift to the couple. Collections were also made from various expatriate groups living in Belgium. Within a day, the amount collected reach over 183,000 Belgian francs. While Leopold had requested that the money collected by applied directly to the national debt, the prince was overruled in favor of the purchase of gifts. The items selected from the funds collected included a tapestry in honor of Astrid’s love of Swedish needlework. This tapestry was made over a thirteen-year period by Mademoiselle Dubois, a renowned Belgian weaver.

The first gift presented to Astrid upon her arrival in Belgium was lace given to her by a Belgian girls’ group. Astrid happily accepted the lace, expressing her thanks in the Flemish language.

Also selected from the Belgian collection included a diadem that could be separated into bracelets, rings, a choker, and brooches. The bandeau tiara was made by Belgian jeweler Van Bever and included eleven Congo diamonds. It is now known as the Nine Provinces or Belgian Empire Tiara and has been worn by every Belgian queen since Astrid.

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