One of the royal jewels has a bad reputation, because of which the monarchs prefer to avoid jewelry.
Queen Victoria’s daughter in a tiara with a strawberry leaf
There are several dozen tiaras in Elizabeth’s collection, each of which deserves a separate mention. However, not all of them are used by members of the royal family, and it’s not just the appearance of jewelry: some of them are considered a kind of talismans, while others, as legend has it, bring misfortune.
For example, one of the most “dangerous” jewels of the Windsors is considered to be a crown with a diamond “Koinur”. The gemstone is considered cursed, however, according to legend, the curse only affects its male owners, so women from the royal dynasty have been passing it on to their followers for several generations).
Another such jewel is a Hessian tiara with a strawberry leaf. According to legend, it brings misfortune to its owners. The tiara appeared in the royal family in the middle of the XIX century and is associated with several tragedies. In the documentary “Secrets of Royal Jewelry”, released by Channel 5, Kate Williams, Doctor of Historical Sciences, said: “Hessian tiara with strawberry leaf – a beautiful tiara, but it is often called “ghostly” because it brings bad luck to almost everyone who owns it or wears it. It all started out wonderfully — it was a wedding gift from Prince Albert to his daughter Princess Alice for her wedding to Prince Louis of Hesse. However, Albert died shortly before his daughter’s wedding, and 17 years later Alice herself dies of diphtheria — the first of Queen Victoria’s children. Her three children are also dying under tragic circumstances.”
According to numerous testimonies, the Prince Consort ordered jewelry for his and Victoria’s third daughter at the Garrard jewelry house. The princess wore a tiara on her wedding day and repeatedly wore it after.
At the time of her death, Princess Alice was 35. She refused to leave her children, who had contracted diphtheria, and fell ill herself. Her youngest daughter died a few days after her mother. Her other two daughters recovered, but later they were met with a sad fate: Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna and Russian Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, along with her own children, died during the Russian Revolution. Princess Alice’s eldest son Friedrich died of hemophilia.
Princess Alice, Grand Duchess of Hesse, with her children: Princesses Victoria, Elizabeth and Irene, Prince Ernest Louis, Princesses Alexandra and Maria, 1875
“After Alice’s death, the tiara was inherited by her eldest son Prince Ernst,” continues Dr. Kate Williams. “Unfortunately, Ernst and his wife were also haunted by tragedies: their daughter died of typhoid fever, then they had a stillborn son.” Thus, the next owner of the tiara was the wife of Prince Ernst — his cousin Victoria Melita of Edinburgh. She was repeatedly seen wearing a tiara with a strawberry leaf, including during the coronation of Nicholas II, who was Ernst’s son-in-law. This marriage was not a happy one: it was arranged by the cousins’ grandmother, Queen Victoria. After her death, Ernst and Victoria divorced.
Both ex-spouses remarried. The prince’s second wife in 1905 was Princess Eleonora Solms-Hohenzolms-Leach, the couple had two children – Princes Georg Donatus and Louis. “Prince Ernst married for the second time, passing the decoration to his son Georg. He will marry Cecilia, the sister of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh,” Williams explained. Cecilia of Greece was repeatedly seen wearing the tiara of her great-grandmother Alice — including during the celebration of the coronation of George VI in May 1937.
Princess Cecilia of Greece as a child, 1922
Cecilia as Grand Duchess of Hesse, 1930
“In 1937, when Prince Philip was still a little boy, a terrible thing happened,” the historian continues. — There was a plane crash, as a result of which all those on board were killed. Cecilia was pregnant and must have given birth during the flight or during the crash, because the baby was also found among the remains. It’s creepy, but the tiara survived both the crash and the fire. So it’s clear why she’s known as the “phantom tiara with a strawberry leaf.”
In addition to his sister and son-in-law, Prince Philip lost his nephews, Prince Ludwig and Prince Alexander, and another unnamed newborn nephew in this disaster. The daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Hesse, Joanna, stayed at home during their trip to the wedding of relatives, Prince Louis of Hesse, with Margaret Campbell Geddes. The newlyweds adopted a niece, but in 1939 she died of meningitis a month before her third birthday.
It is unclear exactly who was considered the owner of the tiara. There are no subsequent images of other representatives of aristocratic dynasties in this tiara. According to rumors, it is now in the possession of the Hessian House Foundation.