Kate’s Royal Tiaras
Duchess Catherine has been a member of the British royal family for over 5 years and she has only worn a tiara FOUR times. This number is shocking low, considering her late mother-in-law, Diana, wore a sparkly headpiece to state affairs as often as she could once she became a royal.
Why does Kate not dust off the jewels in the Tower of London and wear them all of the time – of course, with the Queen’s permission? There’s no hard and fast rule about when royalty must wear a tiara, so Kate can choose when to wear one – so when she does, she must feel it necessary. Maybe she thinks the jewels make her appear too royal and showy and not in touch with the British people? (Honestly, who else can boast a jewelry collection of this caliber? In my dreams!) She wants to modernize the monarchy and seem approachable; so maintaining simple fashion and jewelry for her official work may be best in accomplishing this goal. Or maybe, as a commoner, she's just not used to wearing tiaras and feels out of place. Whatever the reason may be for her lack of tiara wearing, she has plenty of choices at her disposal.
Of course, there is tiara etiquette that Kate is aware of already. Geoffrey Munn, author of Tiaras – A History of Splendour, states that tiaras are to be worn based on the occasion, not on the rank of the person. Invitations used to stipulate that tiaras were to be worn, along with white ties and medals. Munn also informs that tiaras were a coming of age symbol for females. A woman would wear a family tiara on her wedding day, symbolizing the crowning of love and loss of innocence to marriage. After the wedding, the bride relinquished her family’s jewels in favor of her husband’s jewelry, again signaling her inclusion in the husband’s family. Lady Diana actually wore the Spencer tiara on her wedding day in 1981, symbolizing her passage from Spencer to Windsor. Lastly, Munn writes that the tiara should be placed on the head so others can see the jewels properly. In the 1920s, tiaras were worn lower on the forehead in a horizontal fashion, so times have certainly changed.
Below, we take a look at the tiaras worn by Kate and their special royal histories:
Halo Scroll Tiara
Worn on Kate’s wedding day on 29th April, 2011
According to the official Royal Collection website, the tiara “is formed as a band of 16 graduated scrolls set with 739 brilliants and 149 baton diamonds.”
The future King George VI commissioned Cartier in 1936 to design the tiara for his wife, Queen Elizabeth (AKA the Queen Mother.)
The Queen Mother gave the tiara to Princess Elizabeth (the current queen) as an 18th birthday surprise in 1944 – however, the queen never wore it publicly.
Princess Elizabeth lent the tiara to her sister, Princess Margaret, who was photographed wearing it numerous times during her early years.
Princess Anne also borrowed the piece as a young lady in the 1970s.
The piece resurfaced on Kate’s wedding day, holding her wedding veil. HM loaned this piece to Kate for the day. Kate’s parents had earrings commissioned by Robinson Pelham to match the tiara.
Lotus Flower Tiara (AKA Papyrus Leaf tiara)
Another piece commissioned by the Duke of York for his wife, the Duchess of York (the Queen Mother) in 1923, as a wedding gift. Fun fact: The original gift was a necklace with a Greek style pattern of diamonds and pearls. The duchess preferred to wear the piece on her head, so jeweler, Garrard, then reworked the necklace into the tiara we know today, totally changing the look of the piece.
The Queen Mother had so many tiaras to wear, that she soon tired of the piece and gave the tiara to her daughter, Princess Margaret, in 1959. Princess Margaret was fond of the tiara and she wore it for many public occasions throughout her life.
Princess Margaret lent the piece to her daughter-in-law, the Honorable Serena Stanhope, for her wedding to her son, Viscount Linley, in 1993.
Queen Elizabeth II allowed Kate to borrow the tiara for both state events in 2013 and 2015.
Cambridge Lovers Knot Tiara (AKA Queen Mary’s Lovers Knot Tiara)
Worn in December 2015 to a Diplomatic Reception at Buckingham Palace.
Commissioned from Garrard in 1913 by Queen Mary – hence the name. The design was modeled from a tiara owned by Mary’s grandmother, Princess Augusta of Hesse, the Duchess of Cambridge. (It was meant to be!) Queen Mary used existing pieces to make this tiara: Some Ladies of England Tiara, and Girls of Great Britain & Ireland Tiara, along with pearl brooches.
The tiara contains 19 lovers knot arches, 38 drop-shaped pearls – 19 of which swing from the arches and another 19 that are removable upright points. The upright pearls were eventually removed to showcase the tiara seen today.
The tiara was passed along to Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, and she wore it on a few occasions.
In 1981, the queen loaned the piece to Princess Diana, which is when it gained popularity and familiarity in photographs. It is said that Diana disliked the piece because it was so heavy and caused her painful headaches. My favorite photo of this tiara is Diana wearing it with the high collared Catherine Walker pearl encrusted bolero.
As a nod to her late mother-in-law, Kate surprised fans when she wore it to a diplomatic reception in 2015.
These tiaras all have a vast royal lineage and it’s so special to have Kate bring new life to them. With so many special occasions on the horizon, we can be sure to see her in more tiaras. I for one cannot wait to see which ones she’ll shine in! Which tiara is your favorite on Kate?
Fashion Files offers a retrospective look at Duchess Kate's sartorial choices.
Alaina is a stateside Anglophile, obviously living on the wrong side of the pond! Besides loving all things royal, she also enjoys playing Scrabble, sending (and receiving!) handwritten notes, shopping for repliKates, traveling locally and internationally, finding new used book stores, and spending time with her own Prince Charming! Alaina also loves e-meeting new people and she looks forward to hearing from you – firstname.lastname@example.org