The Portland tiara from the British royal family was stolen last week, but it’s certainly not the first brazen royal jewellery heist

The Portland tiara from the British royal family was stolen last week, but it’s certainly not the first brazen royal jewellery heist

Off with their heads

Text: Karishma Tulsidas

The Portland Tiara
Talk about brazen: earlier this week, the British royal family's Portland tiara was looted from the gallery at Nottinghamshire's Welbeck Estate. Using power tools, the thieves looted the tiara and a brooch, and made it by a mere 90 seconds lead on the security guards. They allegedly escaped in an Audi, which was discovered charred some 30 minutes away from the crime scene.

The tiara itself has great historical importance, as it was created by Cartier on the bequest of the Winifred Anna Dallas-Yorke, the Duchess of Portland, for the 1902 coronation of King Edward VII (aka, the Queen's great-grandfather). Investigators are still on hot pursuit of the wily burglars - seriously, where's the Mission Impossible team when you need them?  

Swedish Crown Jewels
In what seems like a scene from Diamond Geezers, a bunch of thieves made away with crown jewels from Sweden's Strängnäs Cathedral by fleeing on an open-top speedboat - I mean, I can't even. The two crowns and the golden orb from the 1700s had been exhumed from the tombs of former Swedish monarchs Karl IX and Kristina, and were on display at the cathedral. Two perpetrators have since been arrested, but the royal regalia is still missing. Can someone just make a movie out of this already? 

Ironically, Marie Antoinette never even owned the necklace at the heart of the affair

The Marie Antoinette necklace
Right, so technically, the necklace didn't really belong to Marie Antoinette, but it was one of the many factors that led to her beheading. Plus, this ruse has everything: forged letters, prostitutes, mistaken identities - the works. 

Here's how it began: King Louis XV had commissioned for his mistress Madame du Barry a spectacular Boehmer et Bassenge diamond necklace, set with 2,800 stones. Since he passed away before the necklace was completed, the jewellers went to the next in line of the throne: Louis XVI and his wife, Marie-Antoinette. Now, remember that this was just before the French revolution, and the royals were being castigated for their decadent spending - to avoid any more scrutiny, they refused to buy the necklace.

Taking advantage of the situation, Jeanne de la Motte, who was pretending to be in regular correspondence with the Queen, told the jewellers that Marie Antoinette would purchase the necklace. Once she obtained the jewel, de la Motte and her husband took it apart and sold it, in the bargain doing irreversible damage to the queen's already sullied reputation. De la Motte was eventually arrested, but escaped prison by dressing as a boy. We really want to hate her, but man, was she gutsy!  

Thomas Blood attempted to steal the British Crown Jewels

The British Crown Jewels
Born in 1618 into a prosperous family, Thomas Blood clearly had a taste for adventure. After taking part in a battle against King Charles 1 and staging various nefarious attempts to kidnap the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland for ransom, he decided to undertake his most audacious gamble yet: stealing the Crown Jewels. He hired a female companion to play his wife, and pretended to be a pastor, becoming friendly with the guard and his family. Once he gained their trust, he asked for the guard's daughter's hand in marriage to his "nephew". To seal the deal, Blood and his "nephew", along with two other men, were invited to the guard's house, where they convinced him to show them the jewels. There, the guard was knocked out, and the crown, orb and sceptre were taken from their case. The men were captured when escaping and in a bizarre turn of events, the silver-tongued fox talked his way to King Charles out of imprisonment, and went to become part of the aristocratic set. The lesson? Trust no-one. And learn the gift of the gab. 



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