Fashion Distraction: Tiara Talk and a Poll!

UPDATE WEDNESDAY MARCH 25: There is news today that Prince Charles has tested positive for coronavirus. Clarence House released a statement with the news, saying he has mild symptoms but is otherwise in good health. More from the BBC: 

Prince Charles, 71, is displaying mild symptoms “but otherwise remains in good health”, a spokesman said, adding that the Duchess of Cornwall, 72, has been tested but does not have the virus.

Charles and Camilla are now self-isolating at Balmoral.

Buckingham Palace says The Queen is in good health and last saw the Prince on March 12th. BP also says HM is following “appropriate advice with regard to her welfare.” The Clarence House statement adds “It is not possible to ascertain from whom the prince caught the virus owing to the high number of engagements he carried out in his public role during recent weeks.” 

William and Kate are believed to be at Anmer Hall with George, Charlotte, and Louis. I will update with any new information or do a separate post should circumstances warrant. 


We are back with a look at a favorite topic for many a royal fashion follower, Kate’s tiara appearances!     

I thought we would go chronologically and start with the Cartier Halo tiara worn for Kate’s wedding in April 2011. Below, two shots of the Duchess: on the left, she is seen on the way to the Abbey, perhaps doing a little deep breathing; on the right, after the service.

More about the tiara from The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor

Prior to the wedding of William and Kate, this tiara was commonly known as the Scroll Tiara. In the official information released about the bride’s attire, the Palace referred to it as a ‘halo’ tiara, and I have used both names and combinations thereof here. This delicate diamond piece has served as something of a starter tiara for royal ladies throughout the years, beginning with Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

The tiara was made by Cartier in 1936 from diamonds and platinum and was purchased by the Duke of York for his Duchess three weeks before he became King George VI and she became Queen Elizabeth (the future Queen Mother). 

She also wore earrings made by Robinson Pelham that featured an oak leaf with a diamond acorn suspended in the middle.

Two more views of the Duchess.

It was some time before we saw Kate wearing a tiara again. The occasion was the 2013 diplomatic reception in December 2013 when Kate wore the Lotus Flower tiara with a lacy blue Alexander McQueen gown and HM’s chandelier earrings. Unfortunately, this is the only photo I have of the Duchess that shows the tiara.

The Lotus Flower tiara is also referred to as the Papyrus tiara; it originally belonged to the Queen Mother. The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor explains it was actually made from a necklace.

Here’s a tiara that goes by many names, all of which refer to its main motif: some see it as a papyrus leaf and name it accordingly, while others call it a lotus flower and name it as such. (For the record, the tiara is mentioned in Geoffrey Munn’s Tiaras: A History of Splendour and Hugh Roberts’ The Queen’s Diamonds, both of which refer to a lotus motif, hence the name we’ll use today.) Whichever way floats your boat, it’s still a delicate diamond tiara of fanned motifs crowned by floating diamond arches and studded with two pearls at the base and a central top pearl.

It was made from one of her wedding gifts, a necklace of a Greek key pattern with pendant diamonds and pearls given by her husband, the future George VI.

Below, the piece as a tiara and a necklace. 

The original necklace was created by Garrard Jewelers.  In the 1920s (when she was known as the Duchess of York) the Queen Mum decided she preferred the diamonds and pearls be worn atop her head as opposed to around her neck. This stunning image comes from the book Tiaras: A History of Splendour, by Geoffrey C. Munn, via the Royal Post.

Tiaras: A History of Splendour via The Royal Post (Click photo to visit The Royal Post)

Here is another look, but again, just the one photo shows the tiara.

The next occasion for a tiara was almost two years later, in October 2015, when the couple took part in their first state banquet at Buckingham Palace. This is from a Telegraph story:

Four-and-a-half years after she became an HRH, Kate made her first appearance at what is considered a staple royal duty – dining in the opulent palace ballroom with 170 guests in honour of a visiting president.

The dinner was in honor of the President of China, Xi Jinping, and his wife, Madame Peng.  Once again the Duchess chose the Lotus Flower tiara. One reason it was an ideal choice is the importance of the Lotus flower in Chinese culture and history. More from China Culture:

Untouched by any impurities, the lotus symbolizes purity of the heart and mind and represents long life, humility, honor and tranquility.

The Duchess also accessorized her Jenny Packham gown with The Queen’s diamond chandelier earrings and two shimmering diamond bracelets: the Wedding Gift bracelet, so-called because it was a gift from Prince Philip in 1947 that was created with diamonds from a tiara that belonged to his mother; Queen Mary’s Diamond Bar Choker Bracelet that The Court Jeweller explains was “made from an Art Deco choker necklace that belonged to the Queen’s grandmother, Queen Mary. The piece was also worn as a bracelet by the Queen Mother.”

Here is one more view of the Duchess as she arrived at Buckingham Palace that evening.

Just a few months later, we saw Kate wearing the Lover’s Knot tiara for the first time.

The Duchess wore the iconic piece at the 2015 diplomatic reception, accessorizing the icy blue evening gown by Alexander McQueen first seen at the 2013 reception, along with the Queen’s diamond chandelier earrings.

The tiara was commissioned by Queen Mary in 1914 and made by Garrard. The piece is also referred to as Queen Mary’s Lover’s Knot Tiara. More from this Court Jeweller post:

While the piece is definitely the most famous lover’s knot tiara today, it was originally a copy of another almost-identical sparkler that once belonged to the Cambridge family. The lover’s knot motif was very popular in the nineteenth century; the knots are the pretzel-like elements at the top of the tiara — the part from which the pendant pearls are suspended.

Below, HM wearing the piece during a 1960 trip to India.

From the Royal Order of Splendor: “After Mary died in 1953, the tiara passed to Queen Elizabeth II. She wore it with some regularity in the early 1950s, but it eventually went back to storage as she narrowed down her favorite tiaras to the ones we see with regularity today.”

Many associate the tiara with the late Diana, Princess of Wales. Here she is seen wearing it in New Zealand in 1983. Patricia Treble’s piece for Maclean’s Canada notes another aspect of Kate wearing this particular tiara:

Its emotional impact is not to be underestimated, for Kate—like Diana—is wearing it in her role as future queen consort. And as someone very much loved by a son and a husband: Prince William.

In this shot, you see the Duke and Duchess as they left the 2015 reception.

Our next opportunity to see the Duchess wearing a tiara was a year later at the December 2016 diplomatic reception.  Kate brought back the red Jenny Packham evening gown first worn for the China state dinner shown above and diamond drop earrings loaned to her by the Queen. 

Another view of the couple as they headed home after the function.

The next tiara appearance was in July 2017 when Kate and William attended a state dinner honoring Spain’s King Felipe and Queen Letizia.

The Duchess wore a Marchesa evening gown and wowed with the Queen’s Ruby and Diamond Floral Bandeau Necklace and the Collingwood Pearl and Diamond Earrings, a gift from Collingwood Jewelers to Diana, Princess of Wales. Unfortunately,we, do not have any closeup photos from the event.

At the December 2017 diplomatic reception, the Duchess was in a white Jenny Packham evening gown, the Lover’s Knot tiara, and the Collingwood earrings. She also wore a collet/rivière style necklace, described by Her Majesty’s Jewel Vault as a “basic necklace with single round diamonds (of considerable size on their own) in a single row.” It is believed to be on loan from HM.

Another view. 

The next time the Duchess was seen wearing a tiara was at the October 2018 state dinner in honor of King Willem-Alexander and his wife Queen Máxima of the Netherlands. 

This event came with a delightful surprise: multiple photos from inside the function, highly unusual at the time but now something we see more frequently. The Duchess paired the Lover’s Knot tiara and Diana’s Collingwood earrings again, wearing a ruched and pleated Alexander McQueen gown.

She wore two other notable items. The first is Queen Alexandra’s Wedding Necklace, described by Her Majesty’s Jewel Vault as featuring “8 pearls surrounded by diamonds, each connected with festoons of diamonds, and three detachable diamond and pearl drop pendants.” The second is the Royal Family Order bestowed upon her by The Queen, first worn to the 2017 diplomatic reception, but not visible in the few photos we had of the Duchess arriving/departing that event.

Kate brought back the Lover’s Knot and Collingwood earrings for 2018’s diplomatic reception.

She wore her Royal Family Order and carried her Jenny Packham ‘Casa’ clutch, accessorizing the Jenny Packham gown the Duchess wore that evening.

This photo of the Duchess is obscured because of the rain on the car windows, but it remains a favorite. 

June 2019 brought another state banquet, this one in honor of President Trump and Mrs. Trump.

Kate chose the Lover’s Knot tiara again, but mixed things up in terms of jewelry, wearing the Queen Mother’s sapphire and diamond fringe earrings and a 4-strand pearl bracelet that may have belonged to Diana, Princess of Wales. Atop her Alexander McQueen ruffled lace gown, the Duchess wore the Royal Victorian Order sash and badge associated with her status as a Dame Grand Cross of the (GCVO) Royal Victorian Order; it was the first time we saw her wearing the Order. She used her acorn brooch to affixed the upper portion of the sash to her dress, also wore her Family Order and carried an Alexander McQueen clutch.

The most recent engagement requiring a tiara was the 2019 diplomatic reception last December. 

The Duchess was in a navy velvet evening gown by Alexander McQueen topped off by the Lover’s Knot tiara.  

We saw more diamonds, however, as she also wore the Nizam of Hyderabad necklace, showcasing a double-drop pendant with 13 emerald-cut diamonds that can be detached from the chain of 38 brilliant-cut open-back collets. On loan from HM, we first saw her wear the piece to a 2014 National Portrait Gallery engagement. Kate was in earrings we’d not seen her wear previously, possibly part of the Diamond Chandelier Drop Demi-Parure, a necklace and earring set worn with some frequency by HM, and she had on a ring not previously noted. 

It’s clear the Lover’s Knot has been the Duchess’s favorite; my guess is we will continue to see her wearing it for most state occasions in the near future. 

Now for part one of our review (from left to right): the Cartier Halo worn on Kate’s wedding day, the Lotus Flower/Papyrus at the 2013 diplomatic reception, that tiara again at the China state dinner, the first appearance of the Lover’s Knot for the December 2015 diplomatic reception, and the Lover’s Knot at the 2016 diplomatic reception.

And part two, all wearing the Lover’s Knot: the pink Marchesa in July 2017, the ivory Jenny Packham in December 2017, the ruched light blue McQueen in December 2018, the ivory tulle Jenny Packham in December 2018, the white ruffled lace McQueen in June 2019, and the navy velvet McQueen in December 2019.  

And now for your vote on your favorite!

Take Our Poll
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Many, many thanks to the royal jewelry whizzes known as Royal Order of Splendor and companion site Her Majesty’s Jewel Vault, as well as the Court Jeweller, for their invaluable knowledge and insight. 

For those wondering how tiaras stay put once placed on the head, the arrows in this graphic show the velvet-covered band holding the Cartier Halo in place on Kate’s wedding day.

This is a delightful little clip that Jill reminded me about in a comment she left! 

Ella at The Court Jeweller has a fabulous Tiara Tournament underway, complete with brackets a la NCAA basketball. She’s getting down to the final rounds, but it’s a delight to read and learn about the different tiaras.  

I’ll close with concern and care for everyone struggling with the ongoing crisis. No matter where you are, you are in my thoughts and I hope the post provides just the littlest respite from these very scary days.   

The post Fashion Distraction: Tiara Talk and a Poll! appeared first on What Kate Wore.

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