|Photos (clockwise from top left): Queen Ena of Spain; tiara detail; tiara detail|
Everybody's got a wedding gift from their mother-in-law that they hide in the attic, right? I'm guessing, though, that most of you have ugly lamps and passive-aggressive heirlooms, not elaborate tiaras.
The princess on the receiving end of this mother-in-law gift was Ena of Battenberg, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria. When she married King Alfonso XIII of Spain in 1906, Ena received this pearl tiara, made by Ansorena, from her new mother-in-law, Queen Maria Christina.
Queen MC was a formidable figure; she'd been born a Habsburg, and after she was widowed, she acted as regent for her young son. And she wasn't pleased initially with Alfonso's choice of bride -- she wanted him to marry a Habsburg cousin, and besides that, she didn't consider the Battenbergs royal enough for the family. (Joke's on her -- there's now a Battenberg on the throne of Spain, another became queen of Sweden, and eventually there will be one on the throne of the United Kingdom, too.)
Eventually Maria Christina relented, and Alfonso and Ena were allowed to wed. Perhaps this tiara was meant to be a peace offering, but if it was, its effects are dubious. Ena was never photographed wearing it; indeed, the only photo of the tiara I've been able to track down is from the record of Ena's wedding gifts. In the 1920s, it was broken up and used by Cartier to create the diamond and pearl tiara worn today by Queen Sofia. (More on that one later.)
So, word to the wise: take that ugly lamp and turn it into a gorgeous candelabra. That will show your mother-in-law who's boss...