When former Olympic swimmer Charlene Wittstock married Prince Albert of Monaco in 2011, it was widely assumed that she would receive the jewels that had been worn by her illustrious predecessor, Grace Kelly.
The renowned French Jewellery House, Van Cleef and Arpels, had been commissioned to make a new tiara for the occasion but the new Princess surprised everyone by wearing a beautiful array of diamond flowers, woven through her elegant chignon.
Just before the wedding in an interview with Vogue, Princess Charlene told the magazine:
“I’m not wearing a tiara, instead, Princess Caroline has lent me some beautiful diamond hair clips which belonged to her grandmother.”
It has generally been agreed that these flowers are part of a piece of jewellery known as a ‘traine de corsage’. Very popular in the 19th Century, these jewels contained a series of brooches ‘en tremblant’ which can be linked together to form a ‘traine’ around the collar of a dress.
According to the Jewellery Editor
“‘En tremblant’ means that the flowers actually move, or more like quiver, with your every move. They were made this way to make the most of old cut diamonds with less facets than our modern cuts and by being in constant motion, catch the candlelight and throw off a shower of light. This is achieved by setting the diamonds into coils”
When Princess Charlotte died in Paris in 1977, her jewellery became the property of the ‘Palais Princier de Monaco Collection’. As with tiaras, the diamond flowers have been worn most often by Princess Caroline.
The flexibility of this piece has allowed Caroline to be very creative with this jewel, fashioning the parts into brooches, earrings and head ornaments.
In 1990, she wore the flowers for Monaco’s Red Cross Ball with her husband Stefano Casiraghi at her side.
From the time of her mother Grace Kelly’s death to her brother Prince Albert’s marriage in 2011, Princess Caroline was effectively the First lady of Monaco. She would often represent her father Prince Rainier III at international gatherings or preside over high society events in Monaco such as the famous the Red Cross Ball. When she married Ernst August, Prince of Hanover in 1999, her prominence on the European Royal scene only increased further.
Princess Charlene was not the only recent Grimaldi bride to wear this piece, leading to speculation that these brooches may now become a traditional Monegasque wedding feature in some form or another.
When Princess Caroline’s daughter, Charlotte Casiraghi married in 2019 the Diamond flowers could be seen atop her veil.