A world very few people know – but one many would like to know more about. They have been stolen and resurrected as copies. They have been given as dowries and used as a cure for bad consciences in broken engagements. They have been hidden beneath women's skirts and smuggled out of chaotic countries. And some are still buried in the woods of Siberia. It is the story of European civilization, where the symbols of royal power and the most visible evidence of royal dignity, the legitimacy of the family, are the impressive jewels worn at the great dinners and State visits. Few people know that some of the most fascinating jewels in the world are often tied to the high points of the history of the various royal families.
Through the history, European royal families were known for their great wealth, and as an expression of this, they adorned extravagant garments and beautiful jewellery. Today, some of the monarchies no longer exist, but the jewels are still worn by the remaining royal families at festive occasions they attend or house. This two part documentary will take the viewer through their fascinating story and the human destinies behind them. These are stories of power, love, triumph, tragedy and honour. Episode listing -
Episode 1 - Through Generations
Through Generations tells the stories from the Scandinavian royal families, German principalities, the British royal family and the Benelux-counties, starting with the coronation of Emperor Napoleon in 1804, where the eyes of the world were trained on France. Napoleon Bonaparte is planning a magnificent ceremony, in which the Pope himself will crown him emperor. Incredible wealth is spent on jewellery and clothing – nothing is left to chance.
Not only is Napoleon’s wife Josephine taking part in the coronation but also there is his first fiancée Desiree, wearing the most beautiful rubies and diamonds. A parure that Desiree brings with her when later she becomes the Queen of Sweden. Her son marries Josephine’s granddaughter so, through several generations, the Swedish royal family inherits magnificent jewels from the French family. A lot of these jewels are still in Sweden and some of them are also found in several other European royal families. Today Crown Princess Mary of Denmark wears Desires’s ruby parure.
Episode 2 – In the Land of the Tsar
In the Land of the Tsar begins in Russia, where ion the 1917 the wealthy Grand Duchess Vladimir publicly declares her opinion of her nephew, Tsar Nicolas II, and his incompetent way of governing the country. The nephew exiles his aunt to the Caucus and her grandiose jewels are left at the palace in St. Petersburg. During the revolution her son dresses up as a craftsman and sneaks into the palace collecting several large sets of jewellery, which are later smuggled out of Russia. Today the English Queens Elizabeth II wears the Grand Duchess’ very beautiful tiara.
In the 19th century Russia is a large-scale supplier of fantastic jewels to most of the world. First to the members of the Russian Imperial family, from whom the jewels spread to the Balkans, Germany, Holland and England; later, during the Russian revolution, when many Grand Dukes and their families fled to Europe and were forced to sell their family jewels to survive; and finally after the revolution, when the communists sold a substantial part of the Russian crown jewels to just about anybody to get foreign currency.