Friday, December 27, 2013

Luxarazzi 101: Kinsky Tiara

The Habsburg Fringe Tiara seems to be the only major tiara left in the Princely vaults from the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. After already losing numerous estates after the end of the First World War, the Princely Family was dispossessed of about 80% of their assets after World War 2 and many of those that remained in the hands of the family were rather poorly managed. Not surprisingly, the Family hit some financial straits in the following years which continued into the early 1970's when their assets were restructured by Prince Hans-Adam II, started to grow again and now make them one of the richest reigning families out there. To bypass their financial struggle, the Family sold various pieces of their art collection and you'd very likely sell a tiara before Leonardo da Vinci's Ginevra de' Benci and other artworks of similar calibre cause you can always buy a tiara later on though da Vincis might just be a little harder to come by.

Taking the last bit about always being able to purchase a tiara quite literally was Prince Hans-Adam at some point in his life when he purchased today's sparkler for his wife. All we know is that this tiara was seen for the first time publicly adorning Princess Marie's head at the pre-wedding ball of her eldest son at Munich's Schloss Nymphenburg in 1993. Luckily, there wasn't just any tiara up for grabs but one that showcases the long and intertwined history of both of their families.

Of Bohemian ancestry, the Kinsky family was elevated to the rank of counts under the Habsburg rule in the 17th century. In 1747, a branch of the family was elevated to princes of the Holy Roman Empire by Empress Maria Theresa. While the head of the family is a Fürst (the Prince), the other family members bear the titles of counts and countesses.
Princess Mathilde Kinsky, Princess Marie, Princess Tatjana, Princess Angela and Princess Sophie
Made out of diamonds set in a gold and silver palmette or honeysuckle motif, the tiara was likely made in the 1870's and can be converted into a necklace. It is believed to have been a present of Prince Ferdinand Bonaventura Kinsky of Wchinitz und Tettau (1834-1904) to his wife née Princess Marie of Liechtenstein (1835-1905) who weren't even the first (or the last) Liechtenstein-Kinsky couple to tie the knot. Already in 1761, Princess Maria Christina of Liechtenstein had married Count Franz Ferdinand Kinsky of Wchinitz and Tettau and in 1831, Prince Alois II of Liechtenstein (1796-1858) married Countess Franziska Kinsky of Wchinitz und Tettau. In addition the late Princess Gina's mother was also a born Countess Kinsky so the connections between the two families are indeed numerous.

Princess Tatjana, Princess Angela
The original giver of this tiara, Prince Ferdinand Bonaventura Kinsky of Wchinitz and Tettau, and his wife are both the great-grandparents of the current Princess Marie of Liechtenstein and the great-great-grandparents of the current head of the Kinsky family, Prince Karl. For many decades, the tiara descended through the senior line of the Kinsky family and was most notable worn by Princess Mathilde, the current head's grandmother.

Some say that the main branch of the Kinskys hit some financial straits during the late 1980's or early 1990's but whatever the exact reason, they decided to sell this tiara and it was purchased by the Princely Family. Whether it was done directly or via the detour of an auction remains unclear though the close-up picture of the tiara which you can see above was made by Sotheby's - you can draw your own (non-) conclusions from that.

To cut a long story short: Prince Ferdinand Bonaventura Kinsky gave this tiara to his Liechtenstein wife and it descended through the Kinsky family until Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein gave it to his Kinsky wife. As mentioned before, Princess Marie firstly (and for the only time, at least publicly it seems) wore the tiara for her oldest son's pre-wedding ball. Her only daughter, Princess Tatjana, chose to wear the honeysuckle tiara for her wedding day in 1999, as did Princess Angela, wife of Princess Marie's second son, in 2000. The tiara got its fourth outing since coming into the Prinely Family during the wedding ball of Duchess Elizabeth in Bavaria when it was worn by the bride's oldest sister, Hereditary Princess Sophie.

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