|Photos (clockwise from top left): tiara detail; tiara detail; Princess Margarita of Hohenlohe-Langenburg; tiara detail; Princess Margarita of Hohenlohe-Langenburg|
Let's round out the birthday week of the future Duchess of Edinburgh with a look back at a tiara once worn by an earlier holder of that title. This is the Romanov Ruby Lotus Tiara, a nineteenth-century piece once owned by Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia, Duchess of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and Duchess of Edinburgh.
The floral-motif tiara was made in Moscow by Russian court jeweler Bolin in 1874, the same year that it was given to Maria Alexandrovna. The tiara was a present from Maria's father, Tsar Alexander II, in honor of her wedding to the Duke of Edinburgh, who was a son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
Maria bequeathed the tiara to her daughter Alexandra, who married Prince Ernst II of Hohenlohe-Langenburg in 1896. Through Alexandra's son, Gottfried, the tiara came close to the Edinburgh title once again. He married Princess Margarita of Greece and Denmark, who was the elder sister of Prince Philip, the current Duke of Edinburgh.
Margarita was the last royal wearer of the tiara. After her death in 1981, the piece was sold at auction. Intriguingly, the auction catalogue revealed that there may have been alterations made to the tiara at some point during its history; it noted that the original faceted rubies set in the piece by Bolin might have been replaced by less perfect stones at some point after the tiara's creation.