Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin:
When I was a teenager, my friends and I loved the best-selling, romantic novel "Désirée" by Annemarie Selinko. Désirée was the beautiful daughter of a silk merchant. Her sister Julie was married to the handsome Joseph Bonaparte, and when Désirée met his brother Napoleon, it was love at first sight. The romance flourished, Napoleon popped the question and in no time Désirée was flashing a diamond ring and subscribing to bridal magazines.
|Jean Simmons as Désirée|
The Imperial Coronation was going to be a glittering occasion, and Bernadotte wanted to be noticed. He commissioned a Parisian jeweller to create a new parure (or suite of jewels) of diamonds and rubies, for his wife to wear to the Imperial shindig. Those chandelier earrings alone would have made a bit of a statement!
|Crown Princess Mary of Denmark|
In due course, Jean Bernadotte and Désirée became King Carl XIV and Queen Desideria of Sweden. In a twist of fate, their son, Crown Prince Oscar, married Josephine's granddaughter, also named Joséphine de Beauharnais. When Désirée died in 1860, she left the ruby parure to her daughter-in-law, now Queen Josefina.
In due course, Josefina's granddaughter Princess Louisa married Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark. As a wedding present, Queen Josefina gave Désirée's ruby parure to Louisa, because the jewels are red and white - the colors of the Danish flag. The rubies made their way to Copenhagen in Louisa's trousseau.
|Princess Louisa Bernadotte of Sweden,|
Queen of Denmark
|Queen Ingrid of Denmark|
And that is how Désirée's rubies fetched up in Our Mary's trinket box.
|Crown Princess Mary|
Meanwhile, let us not forget that while Mary of Denmark may be Our Mary, Elizabeth of England is Our Queen. She will see Denmark's puny rubies and raise them the Tudor Rose Tiara.