Welcome to Part One of the British Royal Family’s Tiaras!
The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara
Let’s start with this recognizable piece often worn by the Queen.
This tiara was a gift from the girls of Great Britain and Ireland to Princess Mary of Teck on the occasion of her marriage to the Duke of York in 1893. One of the things that Queen Mary was famous for was her jewellery collection. Society matron Lady Eve Greville organised a committee to raise the funds to purchased the tiara from Garrard. Princess Mary wrote to a relative at the time, “The presents are quite magnificent. The ladies of society gave a lovely diamond spiked tiara”. (Can you imagine this sort of thing happening these days? A collection among ‘the people’ to buy Kate a tiara for her wedding? My, times have changed!)
The tiara has diamond festoons and 27 collet spikes and can be worn with or without the diamond base, as shown above. The tiara also had nine large pearls set on the diamond spikes and although Queen Mary originally wore it with upstanding pearl spikes, when she gifted it to her granddaughter, Princess Elizabeth for her wedding to Prince Philip in 1947, it had the pearls removed. The Queen affectionately calls it ‘Granny’s tiara’.
The Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara
This tiara was made in 1890 and originally belonged to The Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia. The tiara had been smuggled out of Russia by a British diplomat during the 1917 revolution. Queen Mary bought this tiara in 1921 when the Grand Duchess died.
Queen Mary had the tiara adapted so that the hanging pearls could be exchanged with the Cambridge cabochon emeralds. The Cambridge Emeralds were won in a charity lottery in 1818. Augusta, the Duchess of Cambridge, Queen Mary’s grandmother. Mary’s brother, Prince Francis of Teck had left the emeralds in his will to a mistress. Queen Mary persuaded a judge have the will sealed and kept quiet. Mary bought back the Cambridge Emeralds and she wore them at her husband George V’s coronation.
In 1953 left it in her will to her granddaughter Princess Elizabeth who has worn it often as Queen, with the emeralds and with the pearls.
The Russian Kokoshnik Tiara
The tiara was gifted to Princess Alexandra on her Silver Wedding Anniversary in 1888, from 365 peeresses of the United Kingdom. Lady Salisbury organised this gift, which was made by Garrard. Alexandra had requested that the tiara be in the fashionable design of a Russian girl’s headdress, a kokoshnik. Her sister Marie Feodorovna, the Empress of Russia, had a tiara in this style. The tiara consists of 61 platinum bars and 488 diamonds.
Stay tuned for more tiaras in a future post!