15 of the Queen’s Best Tiaras
The Crown Jewels are nice and all, but the Queen’s Jewels contain a number of gorgeous tiaras that are more than worthy of Her Majesty.
1. The King George IV State Diadem (or Diamond Diadem)
OK, this is technically a crown, but it’s too important to skip. After all, it has 1333 diamonds and two rows of pearls with patriotic emblems of England, Scotland, and Ireland set in stone. It was originally made for George IV, though only queens have donned it since. Elizabeth II wore it to her coronation and has continued to do so at every State Opening of Parliament since she became Queen in 1952.
2. Delhi Durbar Tiara
This tiara was made in 1911 for Queen Mary to wear to the Durbar (a ceremonial gathering) in Delhi, to mark the coronation of King George V as King Emperor of India.
3. George III Fringe Tiara
Commissioned in 1830 for Queen Adelaide, this circlet made from diamonds once owned by George III could originally be worn as a collar or necklace. It’s since been worn by Queen Victoria, Queen Alexandra, Queen Mary, and Queen Elizabeth (the current queen's mother), and it is now the property of Elizabeth II.
4. Queen Mary Fringe Tiara
Often confused with the George III Fringe Tiara, this tiara was made in 1919 from part of a necklace that Queen Victoria gave to her daughter-in-law Mary as a wedding present. Mary decided to take the gift apart and repurpose it into a tiara. Mary eventually gave it to Queen Elizabeth in 1936, and it was later worn by Elizabeth II as "something borrowed" on her wedding day in 1947. The tiara actually broke as Elizabeth was getting dressed before she headed to Westminster Abbey on the day of the ceremony. It was quickly fixed by the court jeweler, though evidence of the break can be seen in photos from that day.
5. Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara (or the Diamond and Pearl Tiara)
When Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna the Elder fled Russia following the revolution, she hid this tiara at Vladimir Palace in St. Petersburg. Later on, a friend and British diplomat smuggled some of her family jewels—along with the Vladimir Tiara—out of Russia. The Grand Duchess gave the diamond and pearl tiara to her only daughter, Elena, whose husband, Prince Nicholas of Greece, sold it to Queen Mary in 1921. If you haven’t caught on yet, Queen Mary loved bling.
6. The Burmese Ruby Tiara
As a wedding present, the people of Burma gave the queen 96 rubies, meant to protect her from the 96 diseases the Burmese believe can afflict the human body. In 1973 she ordered a tiara to be made with the gems, and the rubies were turned into roses with diamond petals.
7. Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara
This tiara—purchased from jewelers Garrard—was given to Queen Mary in 1893 by a committee of girls from Great Britain and Ireland. Queen Mary eventually replaced the pearls in the tiara with diamonds (she really loved bling), and would later give it to her granddaughter, Elizabeth II, as a wedding gift.
8. Queen Alexandra’s Kokoshnik Tiara
Originally a present to Alexandra, Princess of Wales on the occasion of her 25th wedding anniversary, this tiara was created upon her request for a piece made in the design of a kokoshnik, a Russian girl’s headdress. The tiara has 61 platinum bars and 488 diamonds.
9. Cambridge Lovers Knot Tiara
Commissioned in 1913 by Queen Mary and modeled after one owned by her grandmother Princess Augusta of Hesse, this tiara was inherited by Queen Elizabeth II and made famous by Princess Diana, who received it as a wedding present from the Queen in 1981 (though she did not wear it on her wedding day). It was returned to the Queen’s collection after Charles and Diana divorced.
10. Meander Tiara (or Princess Andrew’s Meander Tiara)
This modern tiara is actually no longer in the Queen's collection. It was given to Elizabeth II by her new mother-in-law, Princess Alice (wife of Andrew of Greece and Denmark), as a wedding gift, but Elizabeth never wore it and eventually gave the piece to her daughter, Princess Anne. Anne has worn it frequently, and her daughter, Zara, wore it on her wedding day in 2011. As for the name, "meander" is the name for the Greek key design seen on the tiara.
11. 1936 Cartier Halo Tiara
A bit of trivia: in Great Britain, the first time a tiara may be worn is at one's wedding. Queen Elizabeth loaned Kate Middleton this particular piece for her wedding day. It was originally purchased by her father, the Duke of York (who would become King George VI), for her mother Elizabeth.
12. Oriental Circlet
Prince Albert had this tiara made for Queen Victoria in 1853, with arches and lotus flowers inspired by eastern designs. It originally contained opals, but Queen Alexandra believed them to be bad luck and put rubies in their place. The Queen Mother Elizabeth was fond of the tiara and wore it often, but the current Queen has only worn it twice in public.
13. Boucheron Honeycomb Tiara (or Greville Tiara)
Not originally a royal tiara, it was first owned by a friend of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, who left it to them upon her death. The Queen Mum later added diamonds to the top of the piece and left it to her daughter when she died in 2002. Elizabeth II has never worn it, but she loaned the tiara to Camilla Parker Bowles on a longer-term basis when she married Prince Charles in 2005, and the Duchess of Cornwall wears it often.
14. Brazilian Aquamarine Parure
In 1953, the president and people of Brazil gave Elizabeth II a necklace and earrings as a coronation gift. In 1957, she decided to add to the set by commissioning a tiara with aquamarine stones (which could be detached to use as brooches) to match.
15. George VI Victorian Suite Tiara
This tiara was made in 1963 to match a sapphire and diamond necklace and earrings set given to Princess Elizabeth by her father, George VI, for her wedding. It was made from a necklace that had once belonged to Princess Louise of Belgium, who reportedly had to sell her jewels after her divorce in 1906 when her father, King Leopold II, disowned her.