Tiaras with tales: The stories behind the Queen's collection of dazzling headpieces

Tiaras with tales: The stories behind the Queen's collection of dazzling headpieces
The girls of Great Britain Tiara (Michael Kappeler/AFP/Getty Images)

The stunning Imperial State Crown that was worn on the day of Her Majesty's coronation is placed on the Queen's casket while it lies in state.

But the Queen had access to dozens of other stunning crowns and tiaras as well. The monarch, who passed away last week at the age of 96, used the glittering headpieces on important occasions. They included The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara, which was reportedly her favorite and was gifted to her by her grandmother Queen Mary, as well as The Diamond Diadem, which the Queen frequently wore on her travels and since the official opening of Parliament in her first year of rule. Additionally, she was kind enough to lend her family members tiaras for their weddings and state dinners. On their wedding days, the Princess of Wales, the Duchess of Sussex, and Princess Eugenie all donned tiaras from Her Majesty's collection. 50 tiaras purportedly belonged to the Queen and were kept in various collections.



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The Diamond Diadem

The Diamonf Diadem. (Photo via Tim Graham Photo Library/ Getty Images)
The Diamond Diadem (Tim Graham Photo Library/ Getty Images)

Since George IV's coronation in 1821, the Diamond Diadem, the oldest tiara, has been handed down from king to monarch. Only formal events, like the State Opening of Parliament in 2002, call for its wearing. It was created by London jewelers Rundell & Bridge and contains four crosses alternating with bouquets of roses, thistles, and shamrocks, which are symbols of several regions of the United Kingdom. Although it was reduced by Queen Alexandra in 1902 to accommodate her smaller head, it still contains 1,333 diamonds. It was resized at the Queen Mother's request.


The Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara  

The Grand Duchess Bladimir Tiara. (Tim Graham Photo Library/ Getty Images)
The Grand Duchess Bladimir Tiara (Tim Graham Photo Library/ Getty Images)

The Grand Duchess Vladimir tiara's tale of spies, intrigue, and a daring escape is arguably the most intriguing of all. It was created by the legendary House of Bolin, one of the oldest jewelers in the world, for Maria Pavlovna, the wife of Grand Duke Vladimir of Russia, and given to her on the occasion of their nuptials in 1874. The tiara was left behind as the family fled during the revolution, only for a British secret operative to sneak it out of Russia.


The Oriental Circlet Tiara   

The Orintal Circlet Tiara. (UK Press via Getty Images)
The Oriental Circlet Tiara (UK Press via Getty Images)

The Queen just once wore this Oriental circlet tiara, which is adorned with rubies, along with the Baring ruby necklace that she acquired in 1964, during a state visit to Malta in 2005. Prince Albert's favorite gemstone, the opal, was initially set in the rubies, but Queen Alexandra, who inherited the tiara from her grandmother, believed the opals were unlucky and had them changed. It was given to the Queen Mother, who made it one of her two favorite tiaras, when her husband, George VI, ascended to the throne in 1936. The Duchess of Cornwall is now wearing the Boucheron Honeycomb tiara, which is the other. After her mother's passing in 2002, the circlet was given to the Queen.


The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara

The Kokoshnik Tiara (Photo via DailyMailUK/Twitter)
The girls of Great Britain Tiara (DailyMailUK/Twitter)

This tiara, which was given to Princess Victoria Mary of Teck by the "Girls of Great Britain and Ireland" to commemorate her marriage to George V in 1893, was one of the Queen's favorite accessories. She referred to it with love as "Granny's Tiara" and wore it for one of her first outings in public following the burial of her father, George VI. It gets its name from the group of female fundraisers who raised the funds to start it. It was 14 pearls high and made of diamonds set in silver and gold; however, 13 brilliantly-cut diamonds have since taken their place. Given that she frequently wore it and is depicted doing so on certain currency, it is believed to have been one of Her Majesty's favorites.


The Kokoshnik Tiara

The Kokoshnik Tiara. (Photo via GRAHAM Image Library/Getty Images)
The Kokoshnik Tiara (GRAHAM Image Library/Getty Images)

The Kokoshnik tiara, one of Her Majesty's most striking items, is made up of 488 diamonds that are set in white and yellow gold. Since Alexandra was the sister of Maria Feodorovna, Empress of Russia and wife of Tsar Alexander III, the tiara was called after and inspired by a traditional Russian crown. From the middle of the 19th century onward, ladies at court wore these lavish jewel-encrusted tiaras. The Princess's daughter-in-law, Queen Mary, acquired it in 1925, and she wore it for her official 80th birthday photo in 1947. The Queen, who acquired the tiara in 1953, used it for her Golden Jubilee painting in 2002, starting what has come to be known as a family custom.


The George VI Sapphire Tiara

Tim Graham/Getty Images
The George VI Sapphire Tiara (Tim Graham/Getty Images)

One of the Queen's most sparkling collections is her collection of sapphire jewelry, which consists of seven precious items, including a necklace, bracelet, pair of earrings, and three rings. This George VI sapphire tiara was added to the collection in 1963 after her father had begun it on the day of her wedding. For Princess Louise of Belgium in the late 19th century, it was originally a necklace. Louise was a notorious character with several boyfriends who eventually fell into financial ruin and was cut off from her family. To pay off debts, she sold her jewelry, including the necklace that had been transformed into a tiara. It is unknown precisely how it got into the royal vault.


The Brazilian Aquamarine Tiara

(Tim Graham/Getty Images)
The Brazilian Aquamarine Tiara (Tim Graham/Getty Images)

The Queen's personal stylist, Angela Kelly, says she loves this Brazilian aquamarine tiara because it is "majestic in look but cool and peaceful." It was ordered by the Queen in 1957 from the then-Crown jeweler Garrard to go with a necklace and pair of earrings gifted to her in honor of her coronation in 1953 by the President of Brazil. She wanted a matching tiara since she loved the ensemble so much. She was spotted wearing a lesser version, maybe with a few stones temporarily removed, in 1957 and at a state dinner in Moscow in 1994.


Queen Mary's Fringe Tiara

(Tim Graham/Getty Images)
(Tim Graham/Getty Images)
(Picture via Getty)

Princess Elizabeth wore the Fringe tiara of Queen Mary as a young bride in 1947 with her flowing Norman Hartnell gown, which was composed of ivory duchesse satin and adorned with 10,000 pearls. But it almost turned out to be embarrassing. The tiara broke right before Elizabeth was about to leave for Westminster Abbey, necessitating an urgent visit from the royal jeweler. The tiara was created by Garrard in 1919 from a necklace given to Mary as a wedding gift, and it was later handed to the Queen Mother in 1936. Princess Elizabeth and Princess Anne then borrowed the tiara on their wedding days.


The Burmese Ruby Tiara

(Photo via Getty Images)
THE BURMESE RUBY TIARA(Photo via Getty Images)

At a Silver Jubilee celebration in 1977, this ivory gown and the Burmese ruby tiara were an ideal combination because royal stylist Angela Kelly insists that the Queen only ever wears rubies with white. The Queen ordered the tiara from Garrard in 1973; being one of the few items of jewelry she hasn't inherited, it is said to show her particular taste. It includes two of her wedding gifts: diamonds stolen from the Nizam of Hyderabad tiara, another gift, and 96 rubies from the Burmese people. The Burmese people believe that rubies save their wearer from disease. The tiara is a wreath of flowers with ruby centers and diamond rays separating each blossom.


The Imperial State Crown

(Picture via Getty Images)

This headdress, which was initially created for King George IV's coronation, is now worn by the Queen to and from the State Opening of Parliament. It was passed down to her through the centuries. The gown, created by Norman Hartnell, is embroidered with the Commonwealth and United Kingdom flags in gold and silver thread. Nearly 3,000 diamonds, 269 pearls, 17 sapphires, and 11 emeralds totaling 2.5 pounds are set in the crown. The Queen ultimately found the crown to be too heavy in her latter years, and in 2019, she broke convention by declining to don the Imperial Crown for the State Opening of Parliament. The crown was instead brought in and set down on a table next to her.


The Delhi Durbar Tiara  

The Delhi Durbar Tiara. (Graham Image Library/ Getty Images)
The Delhi Durbar Tiara (Graham Image Library/ Getty Images)

A collection of diamond and emerald jewelry created for Queen Mary during the "Delhi Durbar" ceremony of George V's coronation as King Emperor of India in 1911 includes the Delhi Durbar necklace and earrings. The Queen received both the Vladimir Tiara and the necklace and earrings as inheritances in 1953.


The Queen Mary Diamond Bandeau  

Queen Mary in her Diamond Bandeau Tiara. (Photo via Graham Image Library/Getty Images)
Queen Mary in her Diamond Bandeau Tiara (Graham Image Library/Getty Images)

Meghan chose a little-known item called the Queen Mary Diamond Bandeau for Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex's wedding in 2018. The eye-catching accessory has a spectacular hanging brooch in the form of a flower design with nine smaller circular diamonds encircling a huge round diamond in the center. It was fashioned especially for the Queen's grandmother Queen Mary in 1932 to fit the detachable brooch that the County of Lincoln had presented to Mary as a wedding present in 1893.


The Cartier Halo Tiara

The Cartier Halo Tiara. (Graham Image Library/ Getty Images)
The Cartier Halo Tiara (Graham Image Library/ Getty Images)

On her wedding day in April 2011, the Duchess of Cambridge wore the Cartier Halo Scroll Tiara. King George VI first purchased the 1,000-piece diamond tiara in 1936 as a wedding anniversary present for his bride. The Queen Mother then presented it to the Queen on her 18th birthday. It has been worn by Princess Margaret and Princess Anne over the years, notably on a trip to New Zealand in 1970. There were rumors that Meghan might wear it as well for her 2018 nuptials to Harry, but she opted to wear the Queen Mary Diamond Bandeau tiara.


St Edward's Crown

Sir Edward's Crown. (Photo via Graham Image Library/Getty Images)
Sir Edward's Crown (Graham Image Library/Getty Images)

The monarch is only supposed to wear the St Edward's Crown once - on the day of their coronation. The crown will be worn by King Charles at his coronation, just as it was by Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. It was given that name in honor of England's final Anglo-Saxon monarch, Edward the Confessor, and has existed in two different versions. Oliver Cromwell, an anti-monarchist, auctioned off the original crown because he thought it was a "detestable" representation of the monarchy.


The Five Aquamarine Tiara

Sophia Wessesx sporting the five aquamarine tiara. (Photo via POOL/Getty Images)
Sophia Wessesx sporting the five aquamarine tiara (POOL/Getty Images)

Numerous people have believed that Sophie Wessex has been permanently awarded the five-stone tiara in a ribbon arrangement since she has worn it so regularly. Its most recent appearances were at Princess Madeleine of Sweden's wedding in 2013 and European weddings in Luxembourg in 2012.


The Meander Tiara

The Meander Tiara. (Tim Graham Image Library/Getty Images)
The Meander Tiara (Tim Graham Image Library/Getty Images)

Zara Phillips donned a magnificent diamond tiara that her mother, Princess Anne, had loaned her for her 2011 wedding to former rugby star Mike Tindall. The glittering headpiece originated in the Greek royal family, and Queen Elizabeth II was given it by Prince Philip's mother Alice on her wedding day. The Queen later gave it to Princess Anne, who later gave it to her own daughter. It comprises a diamond wreath surrounding a large center-cut diamond.


Cambridge Lover's Knot Tiara

Princess Diana in the Cambridge Lover's Knot Tiara. (Tim Graham/Getty Images)
Princess Diana in the Cambridge Lover's Knot Tiara (Tim Graham/Getty Images)

In the Cambridge lover's knot tiara, Kate wowed guests during a holiday dinner at Buckingham Palace in December 2018. The glittering pendant, which formerly belonged to Princess Diana, is now perhaps Kate's favorite royal adornment. Queen Mary's custom-designed tiara was created by Royal jeweler Garrard in 1914 using pearls and diamonds that were already in her family's possession. It was a replica of one that Princess Augusta of Hesse, her grandmother, possessed before she wed the first Duke of Cambridge, King George III's seventh son, in 1818. Queen Mary left the tiara to the Queen in her testament, and she regularly wore it, notably to a nighttime function in 1955.


The Greville Tiara

Camilla sports the Greville tiara, named after the Hon Mrs Greville for whom it was made in the 1920s. (Photo via AFP/Getty Images)
Camilla sports the Greville tiara, named after the Hon Mrs Greville for whom it was made in the 1920s (AFP/Getty Images)

Camilla has grown to love her beautiful headpiece. The jeweler Boucheron, who specializes in fine jewelry, created it for the Honorable Mrs Greville in the 1920s, and the Duchess of Cornwall has worn it regularly. It entered the royal collection when the Queen Mother received it as a gift after Greville passed away, and the Queen has worn it on a number of previous occasions.


The Lotus Flower Tiara

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attend a state banquet at Buckingham Palace on October 20, 2015 in London, England. The President of the People's Republic of China, Mr Xi Jinping and his wife, Madame Peng Liyuan, are paying a State Visit to the United Kingdom as guests of the Queen. They will stay at Buckingham Palace and undertake engagements in London and Manchester. The last state visit paid by a Chinese President to the UK was Hu Jintao in 2005.
The Duchess of Cambridge wore the Lotus Flower Tiara at the Chinese state banquet in October 2015 ( Dominic Lipinski - WPA Pool /Getty Images)

The diadem was initially intended to sit low on the head and was commissioned by the Queen Mother in 1923. It is now known as the Lotus Flower Tiara. The Queen Mother requested that the tiara be made out of pearls and diamonds from a necklace that her husband, King George VI, had given her six months previously. Princess Elizabeth wore the tiara in many photos that were ordered before her father King George VI's coronation when Edward VIII abdicated the throne. Princess Margaret, the younger sister of the Queen, was photographed sporting the Lotus Flower, commonly known as the Papyrus tiara, following the passing of King George VI.


The Greville Emerald Kokoshnik Tiara

Princess Beatrice added a flash of green to her white bridal gown on her wedding day in October 2018 as she borrowed her grandmother's Greville Emerald Kokoshnik tiara. (Photo via AFP/Getty Images)
Princess Beatrice added a flash of green to her white bridal gown on her wedding day in October 2018 as she borrowed her grandmother's Greville Emerald Kokoshnik tiara (AFP/Getty Images)

Princess Eugenie's gorgeous headdress, which she wore to her wedding to Jack Brooksbank in October 2018, gave her white bridal gown a touch of emerald. The Greville Emerald Kokoshnik tiara, which was fashioned for Dame Margaret Greville in the early 20th century, was worn by the Queen's granddaughter. However, Dame Margaret left her jewelry to the Queen Mother in 1942, and as a result, the tiara is now in the possession of the Royal Family.


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