Kate Middleton Has Her Pick of All These Royal Tiaras
While the Crown Jewels are on display at the Tower of London, some of the most beautiful and blinging royal headwear is very much kept under lock and key. It means that we have to wait for assorted state occasions to catch a rare glimpse of these historic pieces, but when we do, it's worth the wait! They're made up of rubies, sapphires, emeralds, thousands of diamonds, smuggled pearls, and aquamarines the size of perfume bottles, so take a peek at the tiaras inside the royal vaults . . .
Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara
Possibly the queen's favorite tiara, it's certainly the one she wears the most, including on some Commonwealth coins and banknotes and on her historic first visit to Ireland in 2011. The piece was a wedding present to Queen Mary, purchased from Garrard with funds raised by a committee and then passed down to the queen mother and then the queen. It used to feature pearl spikes on top, but they were later replaced with diamonds.
Cambridge Lover's Knot Tiara
This is another from Queen Mary's collection. The 19 pearl drops came from other pieces of royal jewelry that were given to her as wedding presents, along with brilliant- and rose-cut diamonds. The name comes from the diamond "lover's knot" bows above each pearl. The tiara was inherited by the queen from her grandmother, and she wore it at a film premiere in 1958 before giving it to Princess Diana as a wedding present. Diana wore it many times, and it was returned to the queen after her divorce, but it was dusted off by the Duchess of Cambridge for a diplomatic reception at Buckingham Palace last year.
Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara
Not to be confused with the Cambridge Lover's Knot, the Vladimir has possibly one of the best backstories as it was smuggled out of Russia after the revolution in the brim of a hat and bought by Queen Mary. It was customized so that the 15 hanging pearls could be replaced with emeralds, and since the queen inherited it upon her coronation, she has worn it both ways.
Delhi Durbar Tiara
Made in 1911 for Queen Mary as part of a set of jewelry known as a parure, the tiara was accompanied by a necklace, brooch, and earrings for the Delhi Durbar — the ceremony in India following her husband George V's coronation. The queen has not been seen wearing it in public, but she has lent it many times to Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.
Modern Sapphire Tiara
One of the most contemporary tiaras in the queen's collection, the Modern Sapphire was made at her majesty's request in 1963 to match a suite of Victorian sapphire jewelry given to her by her father, King George VI, as a wedding present. The tiara was made from jewels taken from a necklace that was already in the queen's possession.
Bought from Cartier in 1936, the Halo was a gift from George VI to his wife just before he acceded to the throne. It contains 1,311 brilliant- and baton-cut diamonds and was an 18th birthday present from her parents to the queen. It became a favorite of Princess Margaret and has also been worn by Princess Anne, but most famously Kate Middleton chose it for her "something borrowed" on her wedding day. Her parents had matching diamond earrings commissioned to emulate the scroll design as her "something new."
Queen Alexandra's Kokoshnik Tiara
Inspired by the traditional headdress of a Russian girl, the Kokoshnik belonged to Empress Maria Feodorovna and was given to Queen Alexandra for her 25th wedding anniversary to King Edward VII. The piece features 61 graduated bars of 488 pavé-set diamonds. It was passed down to the queen in the year of her coronation, and she has worn it many times since, including for official portraits in 1961 and 2002.
The delicate headpiece was a gift to the queen mother on her wedding day in 1923. Featuring a garland of wild roses, the tiara has two alternative frames — one so it could sit as a traditional tiara and the other so it could be worn low across the brow in the 1920s style. It could also be broken up into five brooches. This is a piece that has not been seen for some time.
Brazilian Aquamarine Tiara
When she got married in 1947, the queen was gifted an impressive aquamarine and diamond necklace and earring set by the president and people of Brazil. They continued to amass their most impressive specimens for her and 10 years later presented her with a further aquamarine and diamond bracelet and whopping brooch. The queen loved the set so much that she had a tiara made with additional aquamarines in 1957 and had even more aquamarines added to it in 1971.
Queen Mary Fringe Tiara
The queen's wedding tiara was originally created in the Russian style by Garrard, and the diamonds came from a necklace/tiara bought by Queen Victoria as a wedding present for Queen Mary. After being passed down to the queen mother, it was her daughter's "something borrowed" on her wedding day, although it broke and had to be driven across London with a police escort to be speedily repaired by the palace jeweler. It was also Princess Anne's "something borrowed" on her wedding day over 20 years later.
Commissioned in 1921 by society favorite the Hon Mrs Greville and made by Boucheron, the geometric art deco style was typical of its time and considerably lighter than a lot of older tiaras. It was inherited by her friend the queen mother, who had it made taller in 1953 with diamonds from some of her brooches. It became one of her favorites, and after passing to the queen, it has now become treasured by Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.
Lotus Flower Tiara
Made in 1923 by Garrard from diamonds and pearls that were a wedding gift to the queen mother, the Lotus Flower was worn most frequently by Princess Margaret. It has since been twice chosen by Kate for formal events at Buckingham Palace.
Designed by Prince Albert for Queen Victoria in 1853, the circlet was originally set with opals, but upon inheriting it, Queen Alexandra had them replaced by rubies. In later life, it was one of the queen mother's favorites but has so far only been worn by the queen once — at a state dinner in Malta for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2005.
Burmese Ruby Tiara
Another example of a tiara commissioned by the queen, it was made by Garrard in 1973 and designed to look like a wreath of roses. It's made from 96 Burmese rubies and diamonds from the Nizam of Hyderabad tiara — which were all wedding presents — and the queen has worn it on many occasions since.