This past week, a prediction we made on this blog back in October 2011 came true: Kate wore the Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara in public. Before we dive further into that momentous occasion in history for royal jewelry watchers, let’s take a look at each of the three tiaras Kate has worn so far.
The Cartier ‘Halo’ Tiara (also known as Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother’s Scroll Tiara)
Back in April 2011, Kate famously wore a tiara for the first time in public when she chose to wear the Cartier ‘Halo’ Tiara for her wedding day to Prince William. Our original post about that tiara’s history can be found here.
This tiara first came into the Royal Family’s collection around 1923 when the then Duke of York gave it to the then Duchess of York (later the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother). According to Leslie Field in the The Queen’s Jewels, it was one of half a dozen tiaras that the Duchess of York wore between her marriage in 1923 to her accession to the throne in 1936. The photograph below of the Duchess of York was taken just before King Edward VIII’s abdication and was likely the last time she wore it in public. After that, she had more ‘Queenly’ tiaras to wear and she wasn’t seen wearing the tiara in public again.
At some point it was passed onto the present Queen, but it seems it wasn’t a great favourite since she has never worn it in public either. Instead, she loaned it to her sister Princess Margaret who wore it on numerous occasions and later to Princess Anne, who wore it frequently in her early tiara wearing years. The classic, low style of this piece makes it a perfect starter tiara!
Now of course Kate is the most likely member of the royal family to be seen wearing the tiara in future years, and my guess is that Princess Charlotte will be the next royal lady to be seen in it after Kate (Prince Harry’s future wife is going to have to choose something else). What do you think?
Hopefully Kate will dust it off an wear it more in the future. After all, Kate’s parents commissioned diamond earrings from Robinson Pelham that echo the scrolls of the Halo tiara and it would be so much fun to see them worn together again on a night out.
As a side note, around the time of the wedding there were rumours that Kate planned to wear a floral wreath on her head instead of a tiara, in keeping with the ‘language of flowers’ theme of the wedding and all. These earrings shot a hole through that theory; the Cartier ‘Halo’ tiara must have been chosen pretty early on into the engagement to allow time for the earrings to be made with such a similar scroll motif as the ones used in the tiara.
Kate hasn’t brought out this tiara or the earrings out for a second time yet, but it’s bound to happen in the next few years at least. One possible reason that she hasn’t worn it again yet is because it was loaned to Cartier for the Cartier: Style and History exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris from December 4, 2013 to February 16, 2014, right when her second tiara wearing event came along
The Lotus Flower Tiara (also known as the Diamond Fan Motif Tiara)
It was on December 3, 2014 that Kate wore a tiara in public for the second time, and obviously the Halo tiara was unavailable, so the Queen offered up something else. She chose another dainty but pretty ‘starter tiara’ which was appropriate since Kate hadn’t been in the Royal Family very long. Diving right into wearing the Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara would have been a heavy weight to carry in more ways than one.
This tiara first came into the royal family in the 1920’s when it was gifted to the Duchess of York. In The Queen’s Jewels, Leslie Fields refers to it as having “graduated diamond fan-shaped festoons given height by pearls and collet diamonds on upright spikes.” It actually appears that there is only one pearl and it is at centre front.
As was the fashion, the then Duchess of York wore the tiara across her forehead for this 1929 portrait.
She later passed the tiara on to Princess Margaret to use, and she wore it in the more traditional style for many tiara occasions, and once for a portrait which is now held by the National Portrait Gallery.
As we pointed out in our earlier post, until Kate wore this tiara in December of 2013, it hadn’t been worn publicly since Serena Stanhope wore it on her October 1993 wedding day when she married Princess Margaret’s son David Linley. That’s a wait of over 20 years!
The fact that the Queen appears to own the tiara now implies that Princess Margaret never personally owned the tiara. Or, in the unlikely event that she did, the Queen must have privately bought it back from Princess Margaret’s children so it would not be sold at auction. Princess Margaret’s son and daughter did choose to auction off Princess Margaret’s ‘Poltimore’ wedding tiara back in 2006.
Kate brought out the Lotus Flower tiara for a second time for her third public tiara appearance. It was considered to be something of a diplomatic choice since she chose to wear it for a state banquet given for Chinese President Xi Jinping. In Chinese culture, the lotus flower is considered to be representative of harmony, beauty, and tranquility (source).
It was Kate’s first state dinner and let’s hope a State dinner will be given for the King and Queen of Spain when they visit England and stay at Windsor Castle in March 2016 and that Kate and William will take part; a Queen Letitia and Duchess of Cambridge photo op would be most welcome!
Our post with more of the history of this tiara can be found here, if you’re in the mood for more.
The Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara
We originally wrote about this tiara in October of 2011, and that post can be found here. In that post we spoke about how it makes sense that even thought this tiara is so strongly lined to Diana, Princess of Wales this tiara, it should eventually be passed to Kate to use once she had built up her own royal identity enough. She is after all the Duchess of Cambridge and will eventually be Princess of Wales herself. Wearing significant pieces of jewelry owned by the Royal Family when representing the United Kingdom just goes with the territory!
It was thrilling to see her pull up to Buckingham Palace wearing it. It’s quite fitting that this first outing for the tiara on Kate was for an event where pictures aren’t released to the public. It’s the perfect warm up for when she next gets it out of the vault for a more public outing with more photo opportunities.
In The Queen’s Jewels, Fields gives us much more insight into the history of this tiara:
One of the most charming tributes that Queen Mary ever paid to the maternal side of her family was the tiara that she had made by Gerrard in 1914 to her own design and from pearls and diamonds already in her possession. It was a copy of one owned by her grandmother, Princess Augusta of Hesse, who married the first Duke of Cambridge, seventh son of King George III, in 1818. She had been given it by her family prior to her marriage…When the Duchess of Cambridge’s eldest daughter, and namesake, Augusta, married the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz in 1843, she gave her the tiara as a wedding present. The Grand Duchess, in turn, became godmother, and ultimately closest confidante, to her niece, the future Queen Mary, who saw her annually and knew the tiara well. In 1912 she wrote to her aunt:
‘If you have a dinner to celebrate yr birthday you must wear on yr 90th birthday the pearl & diamond diadems &English orders, do please do so for my sake. Think how beautiful you will look with yr white hair and still lovely neck.”
Naturally the tiara was passed along to Queen Mary who wore it often. This portrait of Queen Mary shows her wearing the tiara in 1926 as it was originally designed.
She removed the upright pearls by 1935 and left the tiara to the present Queen in her will. Queen Elizabeth who wore it on several occasions before passing it on to the Princess of Wales to use.
The Queen lent the tiara to the Princess of Wales to wear when she married Prince Charles in 1981; despite some claims to the contrary, this tiara was never personally owned by Diana.
Diana wore the tiara for the first time in October of 1981 for the opening of Parliament and numerous times after that. She apparently often chose to wear the Spencer tiara instead since the Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara is much heavier and she found the swinging pearls distracting.
So three tiaras in four years is pretty fantastic and has me wondering if there are any other tiara’s from the Queen’s collection that have been earmarked for Kate to wear in the future before she becomes Queen. On that note, they’ll also have to have a tiara on hand for Prince Harry’s future wife to use, assuming she won’t already have one of her own. Any eagle eyed tiara observers out there with ideas for what Harry’s wife will have? Maybe she and Kate will share the Lotus Flower? Or they will buy her a new one, like they did for Sara, Duchess of York? Or perhaps they will dust off something in the Queen’s Vault that hasn’t been seen publicly in ages, like they did for Sophie, Countess of Wessex?