The Devonshire Diamonds: The Coronet, Tiara, & Parure

While not technically royal jewels, the Ducal Devonshire tiaras and parure are, shall we say, significant pieces of jewelry so let’s give attention where attention is due!

#1Devonshire Diamond Coronet

Hello, gorgeous! (via Chartsworth official site)
Hello, gorgeous! (via Chatsworth official site)

Let’s start with the biggest, which is suitably described on the official Chatsworth website as a Diamond Coronet rather than a tiara. In her delightful book Home to Roost, the late Deborah Mitford, Duchess of Devonshire (‘Debo’ to family and friends) includes an amusing chapter to tiaras in general. It was originally an article written for The Telegraph in 2002. Here are some excerpts (shown in bold) that highlight this tiara of all tiaras:

My grandmother-in-law, Evelyn Duchess of Devonshire, was Mistress of the Robes to Queen Mary for forty-three years from 1910. Together they weathered long hours of tiara’d evenings, including those during the fabulous Indian Durbar in Delhi in 1911. The magically beautiful but relentless program, carried out in torrid heat, was exhausting for all concerned, and after one particularly lengthy evening Granny Evie was heard to say, ‘The Queen has been complaining about the weight of her Tiara…The Queen doesn’t know what a heavy tiara is.’ 

Evelyn knew what she was talking about. The larger of the two Devonshire diamond tiaras in indeed a whopper.

Evelyn Duchess of Devonshire by Bassano, vintage print, 29 April 1920 (via Royal Jewels of the World)
Evelyn Duchess of Devonshire by Bassano, vintage print, 29 April 1920 (via Royal Jewels of the World)

 It was made in 1893 for Louise, the 8th Duke of Devonshire’s wife. She was formerly married to the Duke of Manchester and was known as ‘the Double Duchess.’

Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire did wear ‘the big tiara’ on a few occasions. I’ll let her tell the story…

I remember going to…an entertainment in London in the early 1960’s, by myself as Andrew had an engagement elsewhere. With…confidence I wore the big tiara…When I ran out of partners and wanted to go home, I went out to look for a taxi. It never occurred to me that it might not be a good idea to stand alone in the street, long after midnight, with a load of diamonds around my neck and 1,900 more glittering above my head.

One memorable evening we were staying at Windsor Castle for a dance given by the Queen. I came down to dinner, got up as I thought our hostess and the other guests would be, the big tiara firmly in place. To my horror none of the other women wore theirs. It is far worse to be overdressed than underdressed a I sat through dinner wishing I was anywhere else. When the dancing began, I took it off, put it under a chair and enjoyed myself enormously. I suppose Windsor Castle in the only house where you could be sure of finding the blessed thing still there at bedtime.

If only there was a picture of Debo standing there waiting for a taxi to arrive! She perhaps most famously wore the tiara for her 80th birthday party along with the famous House of Worth gown worn by Louise, Duchess of Devonshire for the Diamond Jubilee costume party she threw at Devonshire House in London in 1897.

Deborah Duchess of Devonshire dressed for her 80th birthday party (via The Telegraph)
Deborah Duchess of Devonshire dressed for her 80th birthday party (via The Telegraph)

This photo shows the Duchess at the 1897 costume ball (on the left) side by side with Debo. It appears that the sleeves of the gown were altered at some point after the ball.

Via Royal Jewels of the World
Via Royal Jewels of the World

Here’s a more relaxed photo. I love how it really shows that Debo didn’t take all the Duchess stuff too seriously,

via Royal Jewels of the World
via Royal Jewels of the World

This photo shows the gown in more detail. It is displayed at Chatsworth.

(via Chatsworth)
(via Chatsworth)

Let’s take another look at the tiara, I can’t resist.

via Pinterest
via Pinterest

This detailed description comes from the Chatsworth site and is quite illuminating.

The coronet has a row of thirteen scrolled palmettes (a fan- like shape of leaves on a palm tree), alternating with a lotus pattern. The upper section was made around 1893 and was set throughout with cushion-shaped diamonds. The base has a row of lozenge motifs set between two lines of more cushion shaped diamonds and dates from around 1897.It is mounted in silver and gold.

In order to make the coronet the 8th Duke of Devonshire removed the diamonds in the Devonshire Parure and other heirlooms, such as the 6th Duke’s Garter Star. These totalled 1041 diamonds, to which Skinner added another 840.

A.E.Skinner was the jewelry firm that made this historic piece.

#2 The Devonshire Parure

So that brings us to the Devonshire Parure. It really is quite eclectic and wouldn’t go with just any old gown.

(via Royal Jewels of the World)
(via Royal Jewels of the World)

I think Debo agreed with me. Here is her description of it from Home to Roost:

This set consists of seven monumental pieces of jewelry which, until you look closely at them, might have been pulled out of the dressing-up box. They are a bizarre combination of antique  (Greek and Roman) and Renaissance cameos and intaglios carved from emeralds, rubies, sapphires, and semi-previous stones – cornelian, onyx, amethysts and garnets – set in gold and enamel of exquisite workmanship by C.F. Hancock of London. They were commissioned by the dear, old extravagant 6th Duke of Devonshire, ‘the Bachelor Duke’, for his niece, Countess Granville, to wear at the coronation of TsarAlexander II in Moscow in 1856. This tiara and its companion necklace, stomacher, and bracelet are very prickly to wear. I know because I put them all on for a Women’s Institute performance when I was cast as ‘The Oldest Miss World in the Wold.’

Here she is wearing some of the pieces in what appears to be her everyday clothes and in front of the portrait that was done by Lucian Freud when she was 34 years old. There has been some chatter that this was photoshopped. It’s possible, but my guess is that it’s a real photo and she did put it on like this, perhaps for the Women’s Institute event!

via Pinterest
via Pinterest

More information on the parure can be found at the official Chatsworth website here, if you’d like to see. This is the most significant (and tiara-like) of the headpieces in my opinion:

A chatsworth headpiece (via Chatsworth official site)
A chatsworth headpiece (via Chatsworth official site)

#3 The Devonshire Diamond Tiara

This is the tiara that Debo was most photographed in and you can see why she would have chosen it over the ‘big one.’ It reminds me a bit of the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara – formal but not too heavy, great upward spires, and lots of breathing room so it’s not a wall of diamonds.

(via Royal Jewels of the World)
(via Royal Jewels of the World)

This portrait was taken of the Duchess around the time of the Queen’s coronation in 1953. Information on the history of the tiara can’t be found on the Chatsworth site unfortunately, perhaps they will add it at some point.

Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire (via Royal Jewels of the World)
Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire (via Royal Jewels of the World)

The big tiara was worn by Debo’s mother in law the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire since she assisted the Queen during the Coronation and would have had more eyes on her. It’s been noted that Debo was likely the only Duchess at the Coronation wearing their family’s ‘second best’ tiara.

So regal! (via Chatsworth)
So regal! (via Chatsworth)

This explanation of the peeress robes she is shown wearing for the coronation comes from the Chatsworth site:

Cecil Beaton called Deborah ‘the most beautiful of all’ the peeresses in this off-the-shoulder robe, believed to have been reworked from an original worn by Georgiana, wife of the 5th Duke of Devonshire. In her memoirs, Deborah describes how she came to wear it:

“…Moucher [Mary Devonshire] was to have the robes that had been carefully put away by Granny Evie in 1937 after King George VI’s coronation. Chatsworth, as always, came to the rescue. There were a number of tin boxes…In the vain hope of finding something for me, we started going through them and, lo and behold, from beneath a ton of tissue paper in the box that had held Moucher’s, appeared a second crimson peeress’s robe. The velvet is of exceptional quality, so soft your fingers hardly know they’re touching it, and of such pure brilliant crimson as to make you blink.” 
Deborah Devonshire, Wait for me! (John Murray, 2010)

So, what do you think? I’d take the smaller tiara very happily!

Rarely seen Candid Photos of Charles & Diana

Poking around the internet over the last while, we’ve come across some interesting candid photos we thought you’d enjoy, so let’s dive in!

This carefree photo of Diana (on the right) and a friend may have been taken while she was either finishing up at her boarding school West Heath or while she was Institut Alpin Videmanette, the finishing school in Switzerland she attended for a short while. Do any of you out there know when this was taken?

(source)
(source)

This casual shot was taken of a 17 year old Diana while she was working as a nanny for the daughter of a family friend. The family’s former au pair Marion her Reehorst came for a visit and took this photo.

via Daily Mail
via Daily Mail

When she shared this photograph in 2007, she recalled: “Diana was very sweet and giggly but quite shy and unconfident. I made her laugh when I told her about a very rich man I had been dating that I didn’t want to marry. In return, she told me about her sister, Sarah. She seemed very fond of her but also quite jealous and told me she had dated Prince Charles.” (source)

This next photo was snapped of Princess Diana taking a peak out the window of her Coleherne Court flat when the press was camped outside in 1980 so it is rather eerie. Our post giving some more information on Diana’s flat can be found here, if you’d like to read it.

via Pinterest
via Pinterest

Moving along, this photo shows Diana and Charles kissing in Buckingham Palace on their wedding day.

via Pinterest
via Pinterest

This is apparently of Prince Charles and Princess Diana on their 1981 honeymoon. So relaxed and natural, right?!

via Pinterest
via Pinterest

This photo must have been taken around the same time.

via Pinterest
via Pinterest

And here they are relaxing at polo.

via Pinterest
via Pinterest

Diana and the Queen appear to be having a little chat in this shot. This is from the era when Diana was regularly wearing the pearl choker her family gave her on her 18th birthday.

via Pinterest
via Pinterest

This happy snap of Diana, Charles and Harry in a floaty boat was taken at the Highgrove pool. The photo comes from the 1986 book In Private In Public: The Prince and Princess of Wales. I ordered an old copy off of Amazon (for $4!)  and it just arrived. I’ve just had a quick flip through it so far, and it’s a goldmine! So many photo’s I’ve never seen before. I’m looking forward to sharing more of it soon (have any of you read it already and love it?).

via Pinterest
via Pinterest

As a side note, Diana’s giving me a bit of a Grace Kelly emerging from the water vibe…do you see it?

473_Grace_Kelly_in_the_water_small_

These next photos have a unique provenance. You may recall Diana’s old flatmate and friend Carolyn Bartholemew (she was one of the few friend’s that Diana asked speak to Andrew Morton for her ‘tell al book). In 1989, Carolyn paid a visit to Highgrove with her son Jack and his nanny. Their nanny had brought a camera which Prince Harry and Prince William took over and snapped away.

It seems Harry took this one. That’s such  homey and normal quilt on the bed, right? It must have been one of the guest rooms.

What a cute trio. (via Daily Mail)
What a cute trio. (via Daily Mail)

and perhaps he took this one, too! Diana looks so tanned, happy, and relaxed.

Diana! (via Daily Mail)
Diana! (via Daily Mail)

More information photos of that Highgrove visit can be found here.

Are any of these shots new to you? A lot of them are brand new to me, which is such a treat!

Here are a few of our older posts on rarely seen royal photos if you’d like to keep clicking around:

Some Royal Curtsy Etiquette

Margaret Rhodes, the Queen’s cousin and childhood friend wrote a book chock full of royal tidbits called The Final Curtsy. She served as a Lady in Waiting and explained:

I knew, of course, all about curtseying well before I joined the Royal Household. Some people say that they are not curtseying to the individual Royal, as such, but acknowledging what they represent – the nation.

Personally, I curtsey to the individual. So curtseying on first seeing Queen Elizabeth in the morning, and on saying goodbye or goodnight, was perfectly natural as far as I was concerned. 

Here they are enjoying a relaxed picnic, with the Queen’s beverage at the ready to her right.

The Queen & Margaret Rhodes at Balmoral (via Daily Mail)
The Queen & Margaret Rhodes at Balmoral (via Daily Mail)

As you may recall, there was quite a hullaballoo when Kate joined the Royal Family about how a updated rules were circulated outlining who must curtsy to who and under what situations. Kate was reportedly very happy to have things laid out in black and white which makes sense to me. The last time an update had been made was when Camilla married Charles, reportedly in order to make clear that Princess Anne would not have to curtsey to her new sister-in-law when Prince Charles wasn’t around, thank you very much.

via Zimbio
They do seem to be pals, though (via Zimbio)

Boiled down, the new(ish) rules are that when William is not with Kate (because he’s off in a different room at Balmoral, say) Kate is required to curtsey to the Princess Royal, Princess Alexandra, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.  When William is with her, Kate must curtsy only to the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Queen and Prince Philip.

Maclean’s made a handy chart to illustrate it all.

Via Pinterest
Via Pinterest

Meanwhile Sophie, Countess of Wessex must curtsy to Kate, Camilla, and Anne regardless of whether Prince Edward is with her or not since she is lower in the pecking order.

With that in mind,  let’s take a look at some of this curtseying in action through the years.

Here’s Kate at it with William and the Queen during a visit to Nottingham in 2012.

via The Daily Mail
via The Daily Mail

This video shows the arrival of the royals for Prince George’s christening and I love that it gives a bit of a behind the scenes glimpse. We see Camilla giving a formal curtsy to the Queen, and then give a more informal double peck on the cheek and shoulder tap to Prince Philip (telling, right?!). While that is going on we can see Kate in the background curtseying to the Queen.

Moving along, there are all sorts of things to love about this photo of Sophie curtsying to the Queen just the other day at the Windsor. I think it speaks for itself. Suffice to say the Queen seems distracted by something or other.

via Daily Mail
via Daily Mail

Here’s Autumn Philips in a similarly informal setting curtsying it up to the Queen a couple of years ago.

via Pinterest
via Pinterest

Here we have Autumn and Peter Philips with Princess Beatrice and her boyfriend at Ascot curtsying to the Queen.

queen_2257162b

 

 

Sophie and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent were further along in the line up.

via Daily Mail
via Daily Mail

Jumping back to the ’80’s Princess Diana would curtsey to foreign royals who ranked above her. Here she is greeting Queen Sofia of Spain

April 22,  1986, London, England, UK --- Princess Diana and Prince Charles greet Queen Sofia and King Juan Carlos of Spain upon their arrival at Heathrow Airport. --- Image by © Reuters/CORBIS
April 22, 1986, London, England, UK — Princess Diana and Prince Charles greet Queen Sofia and King Juan Carlos of Spain upon their arrival at Heathrow Airport. — Image by © Reuters/CORBIS

And to the Emperor and Empress of Japan

via tumblr
via tumblr

And here we have a very cute Princess Eugenie with the Queen Mum.

via tumblr
via tumblr

Margaret Thatcher greeting the Queen Mum back in 1980

11 Nov 1980, London, England, UK --- Original caption: 11/11/1980-London, England- Britain's Quen Mother is greeted by the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, upon her arrival at 10 Downing Street. The Prime Minister hosted an 80th birthday party for the Queen Mother. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS
11 Nov 1980, London, England, UK — Original caption: 11/11/1980-London, England- Britain’s Quen Mother is greeted by the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, upon her arrival at 10 Downing Street. The Prime Minister hosted an 80th birthday party for the Queen Mother. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

Next up, some european royals and their dramatic curtseys!

(and thanks for coming back for a visit after our time away from the blog, we hope to be back to a more regular posting schedule now!)