Friday, May 18, 2018

A Tiara For Miss Markle

I have long neglected this blog but as the nuptials of Prince Harry and our Miss Meghan Markle are upon us I thought I would chime-in regarding the possible tiara she may wear on the big day.  The post regarding the wedding tiara for the Duchess of Cambridge remains my most read post to date.  I am motivated to write due to the vast amount of sensational and incorrect information that is floating about.  The majority of news outlets on both sides of the Atlantic are putting forth tiaras that are now more closely associated with the Duchess of Cambridge and I believe this to be an obvious oversight.  Namely the Cambridge Lover's Knot and the Queen Mother's Lotus Flower tiara.
Cambridge Lover's Knot Tiara         Image via The Royal Digest
As we know, the Lover's Knot is most closely associated with Princess Diana but it has a deeper history.  It was commissioned in 1914 by Queen Mary who, in a nostalgic vein, wanted to recreate the lover's knot tiara that belonged to her grandmother, Princess Augusta of Hesse. Originally each knot was surmounted by an oval pearl to mirror each drop below but by 1935 it was simplified to its present form. Queen Mary passed it to her granddaughter Queen Elizabeth II who in turn presented it to Diana upon the occasion of her marriage to Prince Charles. Most recently it has been worn to state events by the Duchess of Cambridge which is why I feel it would be a misstep to have it as a centerpiece of Miss Markle's big day.
The Cambridge Lover's Knot seen from left with: Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Diana and the Duchess of Cambridge         Image via the Daily Mail
I have similar thoughts regarding the Queen Mother's Lotus Flower Tiara.  Also known as the Papyrus Tiara, it was fashioned from a necklace that was given to The Queen Mother on the occasion of her wedding to Prince Albert (later George VI) in 1923.
The Lotus Flower Tiara and the necklace from which it was fashioned   Image via
The Queen Mother loaned the tiara to Princess Margaret and it became a fixture in her repertoire.  Princess Margaret in turn loaned the tiara to her daughter-in-law Serena Stanhope on the occasion of her marriage to Viscount David Linley.  The fact that the Lotus Flower has been regularly loaned to the Duchess of Cambridge has solved an age old mystery.  It was long assumed that the Queen mother likely gave the  Lotus Flower to Princess Margaret outright, but it is now clear that is was a lifetime loan and was returned to the royal vaults after the Princess' death in 2002 and thus falls under the purview of Queen Elizabeth II.
The Lotus Flower seen from left with: The Queen Mother, Princess Margaret, Serena Viscountess Linley and the Duchess of Cambridge    Image via the Daily Mail
Again, since the Lotus Flower has been loaned to the Duchess of Cambridge for recent state functions it would lack special significance for Miss Markle's wedding.
The Spencer Tiara     Image via The Order of Splendor
Time Magazine, as well as other outlets, has put forth the Spencer Tiara as a candidate as it would be a sentimental nod to Princess Diana who wore it on her wedding day to Prince Charles in 1981.  The tiara is a historic piece from the Spencer family and was worn at the weddings of both of Diana's older sisters and by her sister-in-law Victoria Aitken.
The Spencer Tiara seen from left with: Lady Jane Spencer, Lady Sarah Spencer, Princess Diana, and the former Victoria, Countess Spencer       Image via The Royal Watcher
It has seen many a wedding, which in itself is not such a bad thing but it is the property of Princess Diana's brother, Charles the 9th Earl Spencer which could add a wrinkle.  Since it is the 9th Earl's property the royal couple and the British Royal Family would have no control over its later use and exhibition which could prove unseemly.  In addition, the 9th Earl has five daughters of his own who will likely lay claim to use of the tiara for their respective wedding days down the road.

Since the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's union and subsequent children, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will not be "main line" royals in the strictest sense.  Meaning there is little likelihood that Prince Harry would ever been King.  The Queen Mother and especially Queen Elizabeth II have been very forward thinking about the core collection of jewels, consolidating them for the working Royals of the main line, making loans of some pieces and purchasing others as outright gifts, thus ensuring that historic pieces will remain for the use of the current monarch.  Such was the case when Princess Margaret wed Anthony Armstong-Jones in 1960.  Princess Margaret at this point was no longer "main line" and already had use of many historic pieces as a young woman, therefore instead of something leaving the core collection the decision was made to buy her a tiara.  Thus enters the Poltimore Tiara.
Princess Margaret and Anthony Armstrong-Jones on their wedding day   Image via Country Life
The tiara is a Victorian piece by the then court jeweler Garrard dating to the 1870s.  You can read more about its history here as it was sold at Christie's for a whopping $1.7M along with the rest of Princess Margaret's estate in 2006.
The Poltimore Tiara       Image via Tiara Mania
Similarly, when Queen Elizabeth's son, Prince Andrew, wed Sarah Ferguson in 1986 the decision was made to purchase a tiara rather than have one leave the core collection.  Thus enters the York Diamond Tiara.
Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson on their wedding day      Image via the Daily Mail
Again the Queen purchased a Garrard piece, this time a tiara with scrolling foliage surmounted by a brilliant cut diamond.
The York Diamond Tiara        Image via The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor
The tiara was a fixture in Sarah's brief career as a royal and was last seen publicly in 2001.  Perhaps we shall see it again when her daughter, Princess Eugenie, weds later this fall.

The Queen could also choose to adapt a minor historic piece as a gift or lifetime loan as she did when her son Prince Edward wed Sophie Rhys-Jones (later Countess of Wessex) in the summer of 1999.  Thus enters the Wessex Tiara.
Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones on their wedding day     Image via The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor
The Tiara itself is comprised of four scrolling elements (three with anthemions) cobbled onto a golden frame.  It has height and thus impact but has always seemed a bit awkward in my humble opinion.  At the time of the marriage its origins were unknown, but that mystery has been solved.
Countess of Wessex's Tiara    Image via The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor
As it turns out, the four ornaments were from Queen Elizabeth's personal collection and were once part of Queen Victoria's "Regal Circlet" dating back to 1850s.  Unfortunately for us the circlet was unmounted in the 1930s but its frame survives in the Museum of London.
Queen Victoria's Regal Circlet    Image via The Royal Collection Trust
Now bear with me, it is hard to see where this all fits in but if you examine the rest of the diadem's box you see resting spots for the anthemion ornaments which could have been swapped out for the other elements on the circlet.
The Regal Circlet with its fitted box, at right photoshopped with the Wessex elements inserted.   Images via Pinterest
As you can see, considerable effort was extended for a limited return, however the provenance does make for an interesting story.

It is my feeling that the Queen will purchase a piece for Miss Markle which would fit the established trend laid out above.  But, if she were to choose a historic piece I think the Strathmore Rose Tiara would be very fitting.
The Strathmore Rose Tiara      Image via The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor
The Strathmore was given to the late Queen Mother by her parents upon the occasion of her marriage to Prince Albert on April 26, 1923.   It consists of a band of foliage surmounted by five pave diamond roses.  The tiara was in fairly active use while the Queen Mother was Duchess of York but receded into the background when she became Queen.
The Queen Mother wearing the Stathmore Rose in the 1920s    Image via the Daily Express    
It is believed to have passed to the present monarch when the Queen mother died in 2002.  It hasn't been in use in decades but its survival is known from fairly recent color photographs.  It would be a fitting choice for Miss Markle as it is youthful, romantic, historic, and hasn't been associated with another royal since the first part of the 20th century.  For other historic outliers not in present use  consult my previous post about the wedding of the Duchess of Cambridge but my instinct is that a tiara will be purchased.  At any rate we will know very soon.

Until next time--AR

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