Unless you’re Kate Middleton, Princess of Wales, and can don a sparkling tiara as easily as a statement necklace, your wedding day is probably your once in a lifetime chance to live out all of your dreams when it comes to wearing a diamond encrusted headpiece. So when royals double as brides, the are all the more spectacular, and the stories behind them are just as jaw-dropping. Here, we’re looking back at some of the most beautiful British royal wedding diadems to date and and history’s fascinating tiara trivia.
LADY GABRIELLA WINDSOR
Kent City of London Fringe Tiara
The most recent royal wedding tiara has made its debut quite a few times over the generations. Lady Gabriella wed fiancé Thomas Kingston at Windsor Castle this past May in a family heirloom, the Kent City of London Fringe Tiara. The Russian fringe style diamond tiara was a wedding gift to the bride’s grandmother, Princess Marina for her marriage to the Duke of Kent in 1934 from the city of London. The princess then lent it to her daughter Princess Alexandra of Kent to wear at her wedding in 1963. The current owner, is none other than the bride’s mother, Marie Christine, who also wore it at her 1978 wedding to Prince Michael of Kent and several times after in the 80s.
Greville Emerald Kokoshnik Tiara
In the photos of Princess Eugenie at her wedding to Jack Brooksbank, the royal bride’s radiant smile can be seen from a mile away and all eyes were on her incredible tiara. The central emerald, a whopping 93.7 carats, stood out amongst the scalloped diamond and emerald pattern, and was especially unusual as she wore it without a veil. Named the Greville Emerald Kokoshnik Tiara after Margaret Greville, a British society fixture and philanthropist, it was designed in 1919 by Boucheron. When Greville died in 1942, she bequeathed the tiara to The Queen Mother, who then passed it on to Queen Elizabeth in 1953. On loan from her grandmother, it was the perfect touch to Eugenie’s rosy makeup, striking red hair, and elegant Peter Pilotto gown.
MEGHAN, DUCHESS OF SUSSEX
Queen Mary Bandeau Tiara
Meghan Markle, now the Duchess of Sussex, recently celebrated her first anniversary with Prince Harry and baby Archie. For her wedding last May, she wore the Queen Mary Bandeau Tiara, an art deco bandeau style tiara. Interlaced with oval and pavé diamonds, the piece can be split up into eleven sections as its central section of 10 diamonds originated as a brooch. The tiara was first made in 1932 to accommodate the brooch that Queen Mary (Elizabeth’s grandmother) was gifted for her 1893 wedding and then passed on to the Queen in 1953. In a recording for the exhibit “A Royal Wedding,” which opened at Winsor Castle and then moved to Holyrood House, the Queen’s official Edinburgh residence in Scotland, Meghan shared that she and Harry visited the vault at Buckingham Palace to pick out a tiara to wear for her wedding day, and shared that it “was an incredibly surreal day as you can imagine.” Oh, we can only!
CATHERINE, DUCHESS OF CAMBRIDGE
Cartier Scroll Tiara
More than two billion people watched Kate Middleton marry Prince William in 2011, so it’s safe to say that her wedding tiara has had its time to shine. On loan from the Queen, the Cartier Halo Tiara also called the Cartier Scroll Tiara features 739 brilliant-cut diamonds and 149 baguette-cut diamonds. Originally designed in 1936, as a gift from King George VI for his wife, the Queen Mother, she then gifted it to Elizabeth on her 18th birthday. While the Queen herself never publicly wore it, she has lent it to Princess Margaret and her daughters several times, before they amassed their own collections. After a few decades of rest it’s made its most famous appearance on the head of Kate, alongside her Robinson Pelham earrings, a gift from her parents, which featured her family’s acorn crest, perfectly matching the scroll of the tiara.
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Princess Andrew Meander Tiara
A few months after THE Royal wedding, the Queen’s eldest grandchild, Zara Phillips married English rugby player, Mike Tindall in a something borrowed from her great-grandmother that traces back to her family’s royal heritage to Greece. The design features the Greek key in diamonds and platinum and was made in France, by Cartier at the turn of the century. Named after Prince Phillip’s mother, Princess Alice, she received the tiara a decade after her wedding to Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, and was even photographed in the tiara in 1914. Alice owned the tiara until 1947, when she passed it down to her new daughter-in-law, then-Princess Elizabeth as a wedding gift. While the Queen herself never wore it, she passed it on to her only daughter Anne in 1972 as a wedding gift, and she continued to wear it to public events.
SARAH, DUCHESS OF YORK
The York Tiara
When Sarah wed the Queen’s second son, Prince Andrew, she wore a “something new” tiara that was specially made for her by the Queen and Prince Phillip for their 1986 nuptials. Made by court jeweler Garrard, the tiara features floral scrollwork of diamonds set in platinum—its largest diamond totaling at 5 carats. She did however make the look her own, as it was partially hidden under a crown of flowers, showing her transition from commoner to royal. The couple has since split, but here’s hoping talk of Princess Beatrice walking down the aisle soon gets us another glimpse of this unique beauty.
The Spencer Tiara
The much beloved People’s Princess wore the Spencer family heirloom tiara when she married Prince Charles in her 1981 wedding spectacle. A combination of many heritage gems, the center of the tiara was a gift from Lady Sarah Spencer to Diana’s grandmother, Cynthia Spencer, later Countess, on her wedding day in 1919. In 1937, Garrard remounted the tiara with new floral elements. Diana’s sisters and sister-in-law also wore the tiara on their wedding days, and most recently, it adorned Diana’s niece Celia McCorquodale this past year.
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The Poltimore Tiara
There are few tiaras as iconic or large as this one that Princess Margaret wore when she wed Antony Armstrong-Jones in 1960. Originally created in 1870, for Lady Florence Poltimore by court jewelers Gerrard, the tiara can be famously broken up into a necklace and eleven large brooches. As a tiara, it is one of the most grandiose pieces. Margaret wore the tiara often, and most famously in the bathtub, as snapped in the iconic 1962 photo taken by her photographer husband. After her death, the tiara was sold at a 2006 auction for $1,231,200.
QUEEN ELIZABETH II
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Queen Mary’s Russian Fringe Tiara
Of the many jeweled tiaras that the Queen owns, the Queen Mary’s Russian Fringe Tiara, is probably the most famous British fringe tiara. Worn on her wedding to Phillip Mountbatten in 1947, it famously broke hours before the procession, and was quickly repaired by Gerrard himself. Needless to say, the tiara has a long backstory. The design is based on the Russian kokoshnik headdress and can be detached from its frame and worn as a necklace. Made for Queen Elizabeth’s grandmother Queen Mary in 1919, it included 47 diamond bars, separated by diamond spikes. While the tiara hasn’t been worn by any newer royal family members, Princess Anne borrowed the stunner for her 1973 wedding, and it has been worn by the Queen several times after.
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Strathmore Rose Tiara
The spectacular Strathmore Rose tiara is a bit of an enigma now, but shines bright in the Queen Mother’s wedding portrait to King George VI in 1923. The tiara, a gift from her parents, features curving floral garlands and is set with rose cut diamonds mounted in a mix of silver and gold. Made in England in the late nineteenth century, the piece is interchangeable—each of the flowers can be removed and worn as brooches, and they can also be swapped out for Sapphires. The tiara is this author’s favorite of them all, and while it was speculated to be worn by Meghan Markle on her wedding day, we know that she went for something a little bolder instead. We hope it makes an appearance on someone equally stylish—perhaps Princess Charlotte at some point down the line?