The ‘cursed’ Strawberry Leaf Tiara—diadem once worn by Prince Philip’s sister brought tragedy and ruin to all who wore it

The Strawberry Leaf Tiara has left a sad trail of tragedy to all who’ve worn it

Strawberry Leaf Tiara: a cursed crown?
(Image credit: Getty/The Court Watcher)

The Strawberry Leaf Tiara was a stunning diadem commissioned by Queen Victoria’s Consort, Prince Albert, for their daughter. However, tragedy has struck every family to be associated with the tiara ever since.

Many people say that the Hesse Strawberry Leaf Tiara is cursed, and, whether you believe in superstitions or the supernatural, the history of the diadem certainly doesn’t read like a fairy tale with a happily ever after.

From unhappy marriages to plane crashes and sudden deaths, let’s investigate the supposed curse of the Strawberry Leaf Tiara and find out where the diadem is now…

The Strawberry Leaf Tiara hasn't had a happy history

(Image credit: The Court Watcher)

Who designed the Strawberry Leaf Tiara?

In 1861, Prince Albert, the consort of Queen Victoria, designed the tiara.

The tiara was “composed of a rich bandeau, with foliage, strawberry leaves” and was to be presented at wedding of Victoria and Albert’s second daughter, Princess Alice, to Louis IV, the future Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine.

Before Prince Albert could oversee the completion of the Tiara and present it to his daughter, he died suddenly of typhoid.

The wedding between Princess Alice and Louis IV went ahead, but it has often been referred to by historians as the saddest royal wedding of modern times with Queen Victoria heavily in mourning.

With a new husband and a grieving mother, Princess Alice set off with Louis IV for Darmstadt, along with the Strawberry Leaf Tiara.

The tragedies of the Strawberry Leaf Tiara

Prince Albert was the first, but not the last, victim of the supposed curse.

Princess Alice and her tiara moved to Germany with her new husband, only to suffer the painful loss of two children.

Her youngest son, Friedrich, died after falling from a window and her daughter, Marie, choked to death.

This was followed by her own untimely death from diphtheria aged just 35, on the anniversary of her father, Prince Albert’s, death.

The tiara was passed down to Alice’s surviving son, Ernst, and was worn by his wife, Grand Duchess Victoria Melita, to the Coronation of the Tsar Nicholas II of Russia in 1896.

Their only child would die of Typhoid, and the pair would later divorce.

Ernst then gave the tiara to his second wife, Eleonore of Solms-Hohensolms-Lich in 1905. Their eldest son, Georg Donatus, Hereditary Grand Duke of Hess, married Princess Cecilie of Greece and Denmark, sister to the late Prince Philip.

Prince Philip's sister, Cecilie, also owned the tiara - and met a tragic end

(Image credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Cecilie wore the tiara to the Coronation of King George VI in 1937, before the curse was to strike again.

While travelling to the UK for the wedding of Georg's brother, Prince Louis of Hesse and by Rhine, Cecilie gave birth prematurely during the flight, forcing an early landing and ultimately resulting in the plane to crash killing everyone on board.

Despite no survivors from the crash, the Strawberry Leaf Tiara was found unscathed in its box after the wreckage.

Prince Louis's wedding went ahead after the devastating crash, but he was to die childless in 1968, ending the hereditary male line of the Hesse and by Rhine family.

Who owns the Strawberry Leaf Tiara now?

The Tiara now belongs to the Hessische Hausstiftung, or the Foundation of the House of Hesse, which manages the legacy art, castles and jewels of the royal family.

Though the tiara has been been exhibited in recent years, including at the 2002 ‘Tiaras: A History of Splendor’ exhibition in London, it hasn’t been worn publicly by any of the Hesse-Kassel heirs to date.  

Perhaps wise. 

Jack Slater
Freelance writer

Jack Slater is not the Last Action Hero, but that's what comes up first when you Google him. Preferring a much more sedentary life, Jack gets his thrills by covering news, entertainment, celebrity, film and culture for woman&home, and other digital publications.

Having written for various print and online publications—ranging from national syndicates to niche magazines—Jack has written about nearly everything there is to write about, covering LGBTQ+ news, celebrity features, TV and film scoops, reviewing the latest theatre shows lighting up London’s West End and the most pressing of SEO based stories.