Tiaras of the British royal family

The British royal family has perhaps the most impressive collection of tiaras in the world, each with an incalculable value and a fascinating history. These jewels are the personal property of the Queen and other members of the royal family.

When Kate Middleton was planning her wedding to Prince William on April 29, 2011, there was much debate about which tiara she would choose, so we start our tour of a selection of British royal tiaras with the one she chose for her wedding day.


1936 Cartier Halo Scroll Tiara

This tiara was purchased by The Duke of York (later King George VI) for his Duchess (later Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother) three weeks before he succeeded his brother as King in 1936. The tiara was presented to Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II) by her mother on the occasion of her 18th birthday. It is a rolling cascade of scrolls that converge in a central ornament surmounted by a brilliant diamond.

The tiara was worn by the Queen's late sister Princess Margaret, and was lent to Kate Middleton for her wedding to Prince William on April 29, 2011.


Delhi Durbar Tiara

The Delhi Durbar tiara was ordered by Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth II’s grandmother, from Crown Jewelers Garrards in 1911 to be worn on her state visit to India to celebrate the coronation of her husband George V and the start of his reign as King and Emperor of India. The tiara is made up of a circlet of 675 small brilliant-cut diamonds, mounted in gold and set in platinum, arranged in a pattern of forget-me-nots and lyres.

The tiara is the personal property of the Queen, who loaned it to the Duchess of Cornwall (Camilla) for her first royal state banquet in 2005 following her marriage to Prince Charles.


fringe_tiarafringe_tiaraThe George III Fringe Tiara

The George III tiara (also known as the Russian Fringe Tiara) is a circlet incorporating 60 brilliant diamonds that were formerly owned by George III. Originally it could be worn as a collar or necklace or mounted on a wire to form a tiara. Queen Victoria wore it as a tiara on an official visit to the opera in 1839.

Queen Mary inherited the tiara when she became Queen Consort in 1910, and she in turn gave it to her daughter-in-law Queen Elizabeth in 1937 on her marriage to King George VI. The Queen Mother loaned it to her daughter Princess Elizabeth as “something borrowed” for her wedding in 1947. As Princess Elizabeth was getting ready for her wedding, the tiara snapped but luckily the court jeweler was standing by so was able to repair it in time. The Queen Mother also loaned it to her granddaughter Princess Anne in 1973 when she married Captain Mark Phillips.  

The Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara

lovers_knot_dianaCambridge_lovers_knot_tiaraQueen Mary had this tiara made to her own design in 1914 using pearls and diamonds that she owned, in a charming tribute to her mother’s family. It was a copy of a tiara owned by her grandmother, Princess Augusta of Hesse, who married the first Duke of Cambridge, the seventh son of King George III, in 1818. She had been given it by her family prior to her marriage.

There was a strong French influence in the design of the 19 openwork arches, each enclosing an oriental pearl suspended from diamond lover’s knots and surmounted by single diamonds and upright pearl spikes.

Queen Elizabeth II gave it to Princess Diana as a wedding present, and she wore it often during her marriage to Prince Charles. However, on her divorce, it was returned to the Queen.

The Burmese Ruby Tiara

The Queen ordered the Burmese ruby tiara to be made in 1973. The design is in the form of a wreath of roses. The tiara has clusters of rubies in the center of each flower, and the petals have been made using brilliant diamonds. The 96 rubies in the tiara were a present to the Queen from the Burmese people.

The number of stones represents the number of diseases that the Burmese people believe can afflict the human body. They credit the ruby with properties that guard the wearer against illness and also evil.


The Spencer Tiara

spencer_tiaraspencer_tiaraThe Spencer Tiara is mounted in gold in the form of stylized flowers decorated in diamonds in silver settings. The tiara is entirely composite and not an heirloom as has been previously suggested. The central element was a gift from Lady Sarah Spencer to Cynthia, Viscountess Althorpe as a wedding present in 1919. Four other elements were made to match it in 1937. Only the two elements at the end are old and are said to have come from a tiara owned by Francis, Viscountess Montagu and left to Lady Sarah Spencer in 1875.

It was worn by Lady Diana Spencer when she married the Prince of Wales in 1981 and was subsequently used by Victoria Lockwood when she married the 9th Earl in 1989 (The Earl Spencer).

The Boucheron Tiara

boucheron_tiara_camillaboucheron_tiara_queen_motherQueen Elizabeth the Queen Mother was bequeathed the Boucheron Tiara by the Honorable Mrs Greville from Boucheron in London on January 8, 1921. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother asked for the height of the tiara to be increased, and a number of brilliant cut diamonds and a single marquise cut diamond were added in 1953.

The Queen loaned the tiara and matching five-strand diamond necklace to her daughter-in-law, the Duchess of Cornwall, for a royal banquet in Kampala, Uganda, in 2007.

The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara

girls_tiaragirls_tiaraIn 1893 a committee was formed by Lady Eve Greville to raise money for the “Girls of Great Britain and Ireland” to purchase a wedding gift for Princess May of Teck, the future Queen Mary. They collected more than £5000, and after buying the diamond tiara with a festoon and scroll design, at the request of Princess May the surplus money was given to a fund that had been set up to aid the widows and orphans of the men lost after the sinking of HMS Victoria.

In her thank you letter which was dated 4th July, 1893 the Princess wrote:

“I need scarcely assure you that the tiara will ever be one of my most valued wedding gifts, as a precious proof of your goodwill and affection”.

Queen Elizabeth II often wears this tiara at state occasions.

The Vladimir Tiara

vladimir_tiaravladimir_emeraldsMade in 1890 for Grand Duchess Vladimir, aunt of the last Russian Tsar Nicholas II, the Vladimir tiara was smuggled out of Russia during the Revolution by a British diplomat. In 1921 it was sold by the Grand Duchess’s daughter, Princess Nicholas of Greece, to Queen Mary who adapted the tiara to take fifteen of the celebrated Cambridge emeralds as an alternative to the original pearls.

Queen Elizabeth II inherited the tiara from her grandmother Queen Mary in 1953, and has worn it with both the pearls and the emeralds.


Greek Key or Meander Tiara

meander_tiaraAnne_greek_key_tiaraThis tiara was a wedding gift to the then Princess Elizabeth from her mother-in-law Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark (born Princess Alice of Battenberg). The meander tiara is in the classical Greek key pattern with a large brilliant cut diamond in the center surrounded by a diamond wreath. The tiara also includes a central wreath of leaves and scrolls on either side.

The Queen has never worn it in public and gave it to Princess Anne in around 1972. The princess has frequently worn the tiara in public, mainly during her engagement to her first husband Mark Phillips. Princess Anne lent the tiara to her daughter Zara Phillips on her wedding to Mike Tindall on July 30, 2011.

Strathmore Rose Tiara

elizabeth_strathmore_rose_tiarastrathmore_rose_tiaraThe Strathmore Rose Tiara was a wedding gift to Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon from her father, the Earl of Strathmore on the occasion of her marriage to the future King George VI. The tiara is entirely made of diamonds, with five large roses. This delicate tiara was worn by the Queen Mother as a bandeau low across her forehead, which was the stylish way to wear a tiara in the ‘20s and ‘30s. It can also be worn in a more traditional way on the top of the head.

Queen Elizabeth II inherited the tiara from her mother, and has worn this tiara a few times.

teck_tiaraThe Teck Diamond Tiara

teck_tiaraSet with diamonds in tiers holding aloft the sheaves of wheat made in gold and silver, this tiara belonged to the Duchess of Teck - the Queen's great-grandmother – pictured here in 1866.

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Comments (1)

  1. sarah:
    Dec 27, 2011 at 05:38 PM

    I'd be happy with just one of these, how many have they got?! How many does one family need?! Guess I'm just jealous, have always wanted to marry a prince!

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