Sunday, September 20, 2015

Luxarazzi 101: Princess Joan and Her Diamond Tiara

There are a few tiaras that have become unexpected contenders in the Luxarazzi Tiara Race. One of them is Princess Joan's Diamond Tiara, who has made it through to the quarter finals and become a bit of a dark horse. Owned by the former Princess Joan of Luxembourg, we sadly know nothing about the sparkler's history.

Born in New York City as the daughter and heiress of U.S. Treasury Secretary Clarence Douglas Dillon, Joan Douglas Dillon was the first commoner to marry into the Grand Ducal Family - and a divorced American commoner at that. It wasn't an easy ride for her and her future husband Prince Charles, son of Grand Duchess Charlotte and Prince Félix, though. Joan moved to Europe during the early 1950's when her father became the U.S. ambassador to France. In Paris, she met fellow American James Brady Moseley who she married in 1953 and had a daughter with before divorcing two years later. In 1952, Joan had become a Catholic and as such an annulment of her marriage by the Vatican was necessary if she ever wanted to marry religiously again. That annulment was granted in 1963.

At the time of her annulment, Joan had known and been in love with Prince Charles, younger brother of Grand Duke Jean, for a good five years. However Joan being both a commoner and a divorcée, Grand Duchess Charlotte first opposed their marriage. The couple finally tied the knot on March 10, 1967 in a small ceremony at the Roman Catholic Church of St. Edward the Confessor at Guildford, Surrey, attended by all his family. Six months later, the couple's first child, Princess Charlotte, was born.

After their wedding, Prince Charles and Princess Joan moved to Luxembourg where they lived with Grand Duchess Charlotte and Prince Félix (as well as Charles' sister Elisabeth and her daughters) at the Château de Fischbach, a time described by their son, the occasionally featured Prince Robert, as a mini-Downton Abbey. Sadly, Prince Charles died in 1977 at the age of 49 due to heart failure while on holiday in Italy. A year later, Princess Joan married Prince Philippe de Noailles, 8th Duke de Mouchy, and thus ceased to be a member of the Grand Ducal Family and a Princess of Luxembourg. Instead she became the Duchess of Mouchy.

During the ten years she was a member of the Grand Ducal Family, Princess Joan also represented Luxembourg at state occasions. For gala dinners she usually went for her own tiara. An all-diamond piece in a (presumably) flower-y design. A choice echoed by her daughter, Princess Charlotte (above, in the middle) for her 1993 wedding to Marc Cunningham. Where the tiara came from - Joan's family, who are the owners of one of the most famous French wines estates, her in-laws, or second husband - we do not know. I'm pretty sure though that it is still owned by her. At the time of the wedding of Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie in 2012, I saw a (n admittedly not very good) picture of what looked like Princess Charlotte wearing her mother's tiara for the gala dinner.

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