|Photos (clockwise from top left): Queen Astrid of the Belgians; Queen Astrid of the Belgians; Queen Astrid of the Belgians; Queen Fabiola of Belgium; tiara detail; Queen Paola of the Belgians|
Last week we looked at one of Queen Astrid's tiaras that has disappeared; today, let's round out a week of meander tiaras by looking at one that has remained a central part of the Belgian royal collection: the Nine Provinces Tiara.
Like the Stockholm, this tiara was also a wedding gift. It was made in 1926 by Van Bever, a Belgian jeweler, and given to Astrid on behalf of the Belgian people. The original tiara was as you see it in the upper left-hand corner: a meander bandeau topped by a series of diamonds on spikes. It was able to be worn with or without the top pieces from the start. But Astrid innovated, adding a series of interlocking diamond arches over the top of the large diamonds, giving the entire tiara a far more solid appearance. Today, it is generally worn as a complete piece, although Queen Paola has worn the meander base of the tiara alone as a choker necklace. Additionally, the piece can be worn with the arches but without the diamond spikes, making it one of the most versatile royal tiaras in Belgian hands.
After Astrid's death in 1935, her husband, King Leopold III, inherited the tiara. His second wife, Lilian, never wore the complete piece, though she did wear various components of the tiara, including using the meander section as a bracelet. But the tiara itself has only been worn by Belgian queens. When Fabiola de Mora y Aragón married Leopold and Astrid's son, King Baudouin, in 1960, she received the piece, even wearing it on her wedding day. And when Baudouin died unexpectedly in 1993, the dowager queen passed the tiara to the new queen consort, Paola, who has worn it since. There are two more future queens in line to wear the tiara: Mathilde, the wife of Paola's eldest son, Philippe, and Philippe and Mathilde's daughter, Elisabeth -- who will be the first ever Belgian queen regnant should the monarchy survive to her accession.
For more on this tiara: