This is how beautiful the peacock tail ritual is

Next week, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima will go to Slovakia for a state visit. To get in the mood, we plunge into the realm of grandeur. Or rather: in the world of Peacock Tail.

As regular visitors to this site know, a set is a set of jewelry. The peacock’s tail consists of a wreath, a necklace and a large brooch (devant de corsage).

The Rite was performed in 1897 for Wilhelmina, which was to be opened the following year. Sapphires from Queen Sophie’s estate were used for the collection. It was commissioned by the Frankfurt jeweler E. Schürmann.

Wilhelmina is seen several times with the jewels. Because she considers them private property, she can do whatever she wants with them. This also became evident on January 31, 1959, Princess Beatrix’s 21st birthday. Not birthday girl Jett, but Princess Irene who received a peacock tail from her grandmother. The ambassador of Spain, José María Ruiz de Arana y Power, Duke of Baena, was a witness. In his book The Dutch Mystery he talks about this event:

Grandma Wilhelmina has expressed the wish that she should visit Soestdijk for the occasion. Everything possible was done to ensure that nothing could displease her. Wilhelmina joined the family celebration and suddenly gave a gift at tea time. Now, as I said, it was Princess Beatrix’s birthday, but the package, modest in size and wrapped in brown paper, was thrust into Irene’s hands. Everyone was stunned, but Erin, of course, had to accept that. I opened the package and was delighted to find a gorgeous ruby ​​and diamond piece fit for a queen. There was no doubt about it: the gift was for Irene. Beatrix got nothing. Everyone was fine. Irene smiled, if a little shy, Beatrix praised the gift with a stoic sense, and the others agreed with her. But when Wilhelmina left, tongues parted … “

Sixties and seventies

It would come as no surprise to anyone that Princess Irene was often seen with a peacock tail in the ’60s.

National Archives

Because the brooch, diadem, and necklace are so similar, it is important to account for the stones when analyzing jewelry. The brooch has nine feathers, the diadem 7 and the pendant 5.

Thanks in part to counting, we now know that Queen Juliana also wore the necklace on her head in the 1950s/1960s.

National Archives

In the photo above you see Juliana with a big ostrich fan. Behind the accessory is the devant de corsage, as you can see below. Contrary to what is often claimed, Julianna also wore this gem.

Pictured below, Princess Irene wears the center part of a definte de corsage (chest jewels) as a hair comb (agritte). She wears the middle part of the wreath as a brooch.

What I noticed is that the necklace can be worn in different ways. Tight versus loose around the neck, and anything is possible in terms of shape. This is because the royal jewels are removable thanks to the hooks and screws system.

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Here we see Princess Irene with a simplified version of the necklace. On her head she wears a wreath of incense and on her dress we see a stylized version of the devant de corsage.

National Archives


In the 1970s, Princess Irene was still seen with the diadem and necklace, but then the jewels disappeared from view. Only a new version of the peacock tail brooch (right) has appeared now and then.

Wild stories have sprung up over the years. For example, the princess had sold the necklace and diadem. So it was a great joy and surprise when Máxima was spotted with the diadem in 2009 during the state visit of the Swedish royal couple.

(c) PPE/pool

The wreath has now appeared five times on the Maxima.

1 – State visit to Sweden in April 2009
2- A state visit to Oman in January 2012
3. State visit to Poland, June 2014
4. State visit to Canada, May 2015
5. State visit to Singapore, November 2018

(c) personal protective equipment

Maxima and brooch

The gift has now appeared seven times with the Queen.


The “disappearing” necklace

Maxima also brought the necklace back. During a dinner with German Federal President Gauck in 2017, the jewel reappeared.

(c) personal protective equipment

This article was written in collaboration with Renske, Gert Jan, and Edwin Fellner, for which we thank you very much.

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