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The History Behind 10 Iconic Royal British Tiaras

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05 . 30 . 18
Emilie Branch

Emilie Branch

Writer at Mane Addicts
Emilie is a writer and editor based in New York. Though she writes about beauty, she has written for a variety of lifestyle and industry publications over the last ten (plus) years. Find out what color Emilie’s hair is now by following her on Instagram @emiliebranch.
Emilie Branch

Sometimes all you need to tie a lewk together is a tiara. Though opinions may vary on the wedding dress worn by Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, no one could say one word about her tiara—it was stunning. After seeing the power of the tiara and how it can elevate any look to royal standards, we wanted to know more—like the entire history of the British royal tiaras. Who wore them, where did they come from, how much were they worth?! All rise for this slightly OCD look into the most lavish hair accessory in all of the lands.

The Queen Mary Diamond Bandeau

The Meander Tiara

If you’re marrying a prince, it only makes sense that your “something borrowed” be from the queen. Meghan visited Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace to pick out her wedding day tiara, introducing us to the Diamond Bandeau. The tiara once belonged to the queen’s grandmother, Queen Mary, who was the wife of George V. In the center of the tiara is a diamond brooch (made from ten diamonds). The brooch was originally a gift from the County of Lincoln to Queen Mary (then known as Mary of Teck) on her wedding day in 1893. Forty years later, in 1932, the Queen Mary Filigree Tiara was designed around the brooch—because something that beautiful belongs as front and center as possible. The tiara is made from pavé and smaller brilliant cut diamonds, and platinum. It is estimated to be worth $540 million.

 

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This all diamond tiara features a Greek inspired motif—in the center is a laurel wreath cut from a large brilliant cut diamond; there are honeysuckles on the either side. The tiara originally belonged to Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark, the mother of Prince Phillip. It was given to her daughter-in-law, Queen Elizabeth to wear on her wedding day. Queen Elizabeth never worn the tiara out publicly, instead giving it to Princess Anne in 1972. The Princess lent it to her daughter, Zara Phillips, for her wedding to Mike Tindall on July 30, 2011 in Edinburgh.

 

The Cartier Halo Tiara

Famously worn by Kate Middleton on the day of her wedding to Prince William, the tiara was made by Cartier in 1936. It was given to the Queen Mother by her husband, King George VI—when he was still the Duke of York—three weeks before their wedding. It features 16 scrolls, which join as two central scrolls topped off by a diamond. In total, the tiara has 739 brilliant and 149 baton diamonds. Queen Elizabeth II was given the tiara as an 18th birthday present—there is speculation that this was her first tiara, though she has never been pictured wearing it. Princess Anne and Princess Margaret both borrowed the tiara prior to Kate debuting the tiara on her big day. Though it’s unclear how much the tiara is worth, a 3-carat diamond solitaire platinum ring from Cartier is valued at $160,000—to put things into perspective.

Festoon Tiara

No one in the royal family has ever owned the Festoon tiara except for Princess Anne—which is quite the rarity. Anne was gifted the tiara by the World Wide Shipping Group after she christened one of their ships in 1973. She wears the delicate tiara often, and lent it to her daughter-in-law, Autumn Phillips on her wedding day in 2008.

 

Iveagh Tiara

Queen Mary received this tiara, marked by close-set diamond scrolls and foliage in a kokoshnik shape, from Lord and Lady Iveagh, aka Edward and Adelaide Guinness. She kept the piece until her death, and it was inherited by her daughter-in-law, the Duchess of Gloucester, who passed it to her own daughter-in-law, Birgitte. Birgitte, the current Duchess of Gloucester, gave it to her daughter, Lady Rose Gilman for her wedding in 2008.

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Devonshire Diamond Tiara

Made in 1893 for Louise, Duchess of Devonshire after she married the 8th Duke, it is the largest Devonshire diamond tiara. Louise was nicknamed the “Double Duchess” as she was widowed by the Duke of Manchester before marrying Devonshire. The tiara stands out, with 13 palmette motifs separated by lotus motifs, on a base of three rows. The base was made a few years after the tiara, in 1897. The entire tiara is made from 1,900 diamonds set in silver and gold, with 1,041 diamonds taken from other royal pieces.

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Queen Mary Fringe Tiara

This classic fringe tiara was made in 1919 by E. Wolff & Co. for the House of Garrard—it features diamonds set in gold and silver. The diamonds were originally part of a necklace owned by Queen Victoria, given to Mary as a wedding gift in 1893. Mary turned the necklace into this tiara, and passed it to her daughter, the Queen Mother. It was then given to Queen Elizabeth II, who famously wore the piece on her wedding day. Princess Anne also chose the tiara for her royal wedding. Since the death of the Queen Mother, it has been worn by no one but Queen Elizabeth II.

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Lotus Flower Tiara

This delicate tiara is named for its lotus motif (which some consider papyrus). The fanned patterning is crowned by a diamond arching—a large pearl seems to float at the very top in the center. The Queen Mother wore this tiara when she was still the Duchess of York. It was made from a necklace, given to her as a wedding gift by her husband, who would become George VI. The necklace had a Greek key pattern with pendant diamonds and pearls—it was repurposed by the House of Garrard. The Queen Mother gave the tiara to her daughter, Princess Margaret. Though Margaret passed in 2002, it stayed within the family. Kate wore the tiara in her first public appearance as the Duchess of Cambridge.

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The Lover’s Knot Tiara

One of Princess Diana’s favorite tiaras, it is also adored by Kate. The Lover’s Knot tiara was originally created for Queen Mary in 1914 by the House of Garrand. It was made from pearls and 38 teardrop diamonds that were sourced from other royal jewelry. Queen Mary modeled the tiara after one worn by her grandmother, Princess Augusta of Hesse—the whereabouts of the original Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara are unknown today. Queen Elizabeth II inherited the tiara after Queen Mary passed, wearing it several times throughout the 1950s. It was lent to Diana in 1981 to be worn at her wedding tiara, but she opted for a family heirloom, the Spencer tiara instead—though she still wore the famously heavy headpiece. It was returned to Buckingham Palace following her divorce with Charles, and has since been worn by Duchess Kate at least three times. It sold in at auction in 1981 for $747,000 in today’s dollars.

Spencer Tiara

Diana was actually quite the aristocrat herself—her lineage traces back to the Tudor family. The Spencer tiara was made from other pieces of jewelry and was given as a wedding present to Diana’s grandmother, Lady Cynthia Hamilton when she married Albert, Viscount Althorp, the future 7th Earl Spencer, in 1919. The current version of the tiara is distinguished by tulip-shaped diamonds and stars, and is surrounded by scrolls. Diana’s sisters, Lady Sarah and Jane, Baroness Fellowes both wore the tiara on their wedding days, though it has not been worn publically since Diana’s death in 1997. There is no set value for the piece, but a similar tiara with 800 cut diamonds and 48 carats sold for $225,000 in auction.

Thinking of incorporating a tiara into your bridal look? HERE’s what to know before your trial.

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