They’re some of the most recognizable symbols of royalty with few able to see them in person and even fewer destined to wear them, but the British royal family’s priceless collection of tiaras never fails to show their wearers at their sparkling best no matter what may be going on beneath the diamonds.
Modern tiaras have their root in classical headdresses as symbols of wealth and status, evolving into items made from precious metals and gemstones, though never losing their original conspicuous purpose.
Tiaras exist in the jewelry collections of all the major royal houses in Europe, though it is speculated that the British royal family hold the largest volume both in the possession of the monarch and satellite family members.
For 70 years, Queen Elizabeth II was the most prolific wearer of tiaras, wearing more than 10 on a consistent rotation and with more in her possession that she never publicly wore herself, but loaned to family members.
Today, tiaras are rarely worn, though each year the British royals dip into their vaults to retrieve a glittering headdress for state banquets or the annual diplomatic reception at Buckingham Palace.
Here, Newsweek takes a look at the British royals’ sparkling tiara moments, from Queen Elizabeth to the Princess of Wales, the Duchess of Sussex and Queen Camilla.
Queen Elizabeth II—Visit to Iceland 1990
One of Queen Elizabeth II’s most impressive tiaras was first owned by her great-grandmother, Queen Alexandra.
The Russian “Kokoshnik” style headdress features 61 graduated bars of brilliant diamonds rising to a peak in the center, creating an impressive addition of height to the wearer.
Queen Elizabeth wore this tiara on a number of important occasions throughout her reign, including state visits, banquets and balls.
In June 1990, the monarch paired the tiara with a suite of diamond jewels for an official visit to Iceland.
Princess Diana—Visit to India 1992
Princess Diana wore two tiaras throughout her royal career, most often the all-diamond jewel she was loaned from her family’s own collection known as the Spencer Tiara.
The tiara has its origins in an 18th century centerpiece and has been added to since to create an impressive scrolling motif with diamond flowers. The tiara was returned to the Spencer family before Diana’s death and has since been worn by the princess’ nieces.
In 1992, the princess took the Spencer Tiara on an official visit to India with then-husband Prince Charles (now King Charles III). For the occasion Diana’s favorite fashion designer, Catherine Walker, incorporated the tiara’s scrolling design into the dress the royal would wear to an official dinner with the jewel.
Princess of Wales—Royal Wedding 2011
The Princess of Wales’ first royal tiara moment happened on her wedding day to Prince William in 2011. For the day, Queen Elizabeth loaned the future-princess a sentimental piece known as the Cartier Halo Tiara.
This tiara was originally made as a gift from King George VI to Queen Elizabeth’s mother and it was given to her as an 18th birthday present. The tiara was then loaned by the queen to her sister, Princess Margaret, and daughter, Princess Anne.
Kate has not worn the tiara since her wedding day.
Queen Elizabeth II—Visit to Germany 2015
The tiara that Queen Elizabeth II wore more than any other was the impressive all-diamond Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara, originally derived from a wedding present given to her grandmother, Queen Mary.
Elizabeth was given the tiara as a wedding present from her grandmother in 1947 and it was worn regularly from that day on.
The tiara was the queen’s personal property and therefore is understood to have been inherited by King Charles. It has not been worn since Elizabeth’s death in September 2022.
The monarch wore the tiara for one of her last overseas visits in 2015, to the German city of Berlin.
Duchess of Sussex—Royal Wedding 2018
Like sister-in-law Kate, the Duchess of Sussex’s first royal tiara moment came on her wedding day to Prince Harry in 2018.
After a widely speculated on period of tension within the royal household known as “tiaragate,” it was finally settled that Meghan would be loaned the Diamond Bandeau Tiara owned by Queen Elizabeth, which had been made for her grandmother, Queen Mary, in the 1930s.
Meghan wore the tiara to hold her cathedral length veil in place as she walked down the aisle at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor and has not yet re-worn the piece in public.
Queen Elizabeth II—Diplomatic Reception 2019
Another of Queen Elizabeth II’s most prestigious tiaras was inherited from her grandmother, Queen Mary, in 1953, known as the Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara.
This was originally owned by the Russian Grand Duchess Vladimir whose descendants sold a collection of her jewels to Queen Mary following the 1917 revolution.
The jewel, designed by Bolin, features 15 overlapping diamond set ovals and was adapted by Mary to accommodate interchangeable swinging pearls and emeralds.
Elizabeth wore this tiara to the last diplomatic reception she hosted at Buckingham Palace in 2019 before her death.
Princess of Wales—State Banquet 2022
The Princess of Wales has worn three tiaras over the course of her 12-year marriage to Prince William. The one most often seen is known as the Queen Mary Lover’s Knot Tiara.
This was commissioned by Queen Mary in 1913 and has been adapted since. The tiara was inherited by Queen Elizabeth II who wore it in the early years of her reign before giving it as a long-term loan to Princess Diana as a wedding present in 1981.
In 2015, the tiara was seen for the first time since Diana’s death, worn by Kate for a diplomatic reception. The tiara was loaned by Queen Elizabeth, and Kate has worn it regularly ever since.
In 2022 the princess wore the tiara to the state banquet held for South African President Cyril Ramaphosa at Buckingham Palace.
Queen Camilla—State Banquet 2022
Following the death of Queen Elizabeth, her heir King Charles is believed to have inherited the majority of her estate, including the jewels that were in her personal possession.
As such, Queen Camilla now has access to many of the pieces and first wore some of the items in November 2022, two months after the monarch died.
For the South African state banquet, Camilla wore Elizabeth’s glittering diamond and sapphire tiara which had been a rare example of a jewel that the monarch had added to the royal vaults herself.
The tiara was purchased at auction in the 1960s and had formerly belonged to a Belgian princess. The piece had originally been a necklace and was later mounted into a tiara and worn on a number of occasions by Elizabeth.
Princess of Wales—Diplomatic Reception 2022
The third tiara that the Princess of Wales has had the use of since marrying into the British royal family is known as the Lotus Flower Tiara.
This piece was originally made for Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother in the 1920s and can be worn on top of the head as a tiara, or on the forehead in the style of a bandeau.
The Queen Mother loaned the tiara to her youngest daughter, Princess Margaret, for a number of years before it was inherited by Queen Elizabeth II after her mother’s death in 2002.
Kate first wore the tiara in 2015 and reprised its glittering appearance for the annual diplomatic reception at Buckingham Palace in December 2022.
Queen Camilla—Visit to Germany 2023
When Queen Camilla married the then-Prince Charles in 2005, she was given the use of a number of jewels that had formerly belonged to Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.
One of the pieces was known as the Greville Boucheron Tiara which was made for Mrs. Margaret Greville (a friend of the Queen Mother’s) in the 1920s. The piece was altered over the years before it took the form of the honeycomb design we see today.
In 1942, Mrs. Greville died leaving her vast jewelry collection to the Queen Mother who regularly wore the tiara throughout her life.
Since her marriage, the jewel has become Camilla’s most worn tiara and she most recently wore it for banquet during a state visit to Germany with King Charles in March 2023.
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