The Hesse Strawberry Leaf Tiara

Strawberry Leaf Tiara

The Hesse Strawberry Leaf Tiara was designed by Prince Albert in 1861 as a wedding gift for his second daughter, Alice, however he died before he could give it to her in person.

The tiara, was made by Garrard, the royal jewellers, to Albert’s specifications and it was described “as a very beautiful tiara of diamonds, composed of a rich bandeau, with foliage, spires, etc..” The tiara is often said to have been worn by Alice on her wedding day, however she actually wore a floral wreath and went straight back into mourning clothes so a diamond tiara would have been inappropriate. In the image below, the photo on the right is often attributed as a wedding photograph, however Alice is actually wearing court dress so it was taken at a different time.

Alice took the tiara to Hesse with her and was photographed wearing it several times, however, after her death, it was not seen again until her daughter-in-law, Victoria Melita, chose to wear it. As the Grand Duchess of Hesse, Victoria Melita wore it for several portraits and photographs but she had to leave the tiara behind when she divorced Ernst Louis. The tiara was worn by Ernst Louis’s second wife, Eleonore of Solms-Hohensolms-Lich, however it was almost lost in the plane crash that killed most of the Hesse family in November 1937. The tiara was one of two found in a strongbox amongst the wreckage.

Today, the tiara most likely belongs to the Hessian House Foundation which was formed to preserve the family’s heritage and it is sometimes loaned to exhibitions.

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