Today we’ll wrap up our All That Glitters series examining the borrowed jewelry the Duchess of Cambridge has worn. Our final topic: tiaras. (If some of this sounds familiar, it was covered in a March post when I was desperately casting about for a topic to distract us from the early days of the pandemic, and I put together a tiara poll.)
We begin with the very first tiara we saw the Duchess wear, the Cartier Halo.
Worn on her wedding day, the tiara went well with the Alexander McQueen wedding gown designed by Sarah Burton. Below, Kate is seen arriving at the west door of Westminster Abbey.
Her Majesty’s Jewel Vault has more:
Another tiara known by several names (mainly as the Scroll Tiara, prior to 2011; the Halo Tiara, Cartier Halo Tiara, or Queen Elizabeth’s Halo Tiara since then; I have also written about it as the Halo Scroll Tiara), this was made by Cartier in 1936 from diamonds and platinum. It was given by The Duke of York to The Duchess of York shortly before they became King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. It doesn’t seem to have been worn very often by her; she favored larger pieces as queen.
The Cartier tiara was given to Princess Elizabeth as an 18th birthday gift in 1944, another wartime birthday “re-gift”. I suspect this may have been The Queen’s first tiara, but (to my knowledge) she has never been pictured wearing it. By the time she started wearing tiaras in public, she was married and had more options at her disposal. She loaned it to Princess Margaret and Princess Anne, who both used it as young women. They both stopped borrowing the tiara as their own collections grew.
Below, Princess Anne wearing the tiara at a March 1970 function in New Zealand.
And the Duchess on her wedding day.
The tiara really is the perfect size for a younger princess, and Margaret wore it often in the years before she married Antony Armstrong-Jones (when she graduated to something a touch bigger — the mighty Poltimore), as well as afterward. The next borrower of the tiara was the queen’s daughter, Princess Anne, who also wore the tiara frequently before her marriage. But then the tiara went into the vault, unseen for years until Kate Middleton arrived at Westminster Abbey for her royal wedding in 2011.
A closer look.
A few more views of the Duchess in the piece.
Next on our list, the Lotus Flower Tiara, also called the Papyrus Tiara.
We only had a glimpse of it when worn to the 2013 diplomatic reception (above right). We had better pictures when it was worn almost two years later for the China state dinner (above left). More about the piece from The Court Jeweller:
The first royal wearer of this tiara, which takes its name from the lotus flower (or papyrus leaf) elements that dominate the piece, was the Queen Mum. She took a page out of her mother-in-law’s book when creating the sparkler: it was made from a necklace that she received as a wedding gift in 1923. The necklace, which was made of diamonds and pearls and featured meander and festoon designs, was given to her by her husband, the future George VI, who had purchased it from Garrard.
Even so, Elizabeth decided she’d rather dismantle it and reuse the gems elsewhere. Only six months after she received it, Garrard broke up the necklace and used the diamonds and pearls to create this tiara.
Here you see the piece in necklace form and then as a tiara.
Below, the Queen Mother wearing the piece. The Royal Order of Splendor notes “The then-Duchess of York wore it in the fashionable bandeau style across her forehead, but it is equipped to be worn in traditional style at the crown of the head as well.”
The Court Jeweller reports “Margaret received the tiara from her mother in 1959, just before she married Antony Armstrong-Jones. Along with the Poltimore, it became one of her most frequently worn tiaras.” Below, Princess Margaret wearing the piece.
As mentioned, we next saw the Duchess wearing the piece almost two years later, in October 2015, when taking part in her first state banquet at Buckingham Palace. That evening she wore a Jenny Packham evening gown.
One reason it was an ideal choice for the China state dinner 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.”
This is the best closeup I have of the item, which isn’t terrific.
And two more views of the Duchess wearing it in 2015.
Our final tiara is the Lover’s Knot, first worn for the 2015 diplomatic reception, accessorizing the lacy Alexander McQueen evening gown seen through the car window at the 2013 reception.
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.
Originally it was topped with a row of upright pearls, making it even taller and grander than the present version; these are the same pearls that once sat atop the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara. The upright pearls were later removed from the tiara, and now a row of diamond brilliants sit along the top of the piece.
Below, HM wearing the piece during a 1960 trip to India.
The Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara was commissioned from E. Wolff & Co. for Garrard in 1913 by our favorite magpie, Queen Mary.
After Mary died in 1953, the tiara passed to Queen Elizabeth II. She wore it with some regularity in the early years of her reign, particularly the 1950s, but it eventually went back to storage as she began to favor the group of tiaras we still see her wear today.
Next came the best known part of our tale: the Queen loaned the Cambridge Lover’s Knot tiara to Diana, Princess of Wales, and it soon became one of her signature pieces. Many have called this her “favorite” tiara, and while I’m not sure that is strictly correct (she was said to complain it was too heavy, too headache-inducing, and even too noisy due to the swinging pearls), there’s no doubt that she made it an iconic piece
A piece by Patricia Treble 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.
The Duke and Duchess as they left the 2015 diplomatic 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 seen at the China state dinner, and wore diamond drop earrings loaned to her by the Queen.
Another view of the couple as they headed home after the function.
It was July 2017 when we saw the Duchess wearing the tiara again for a state dinner honoring Spain’s King Felipe and Queen Letizia.
Kate accessorized a Marchesa evening gown with the tiara, as well as 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.
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 necklace on loan from HM.
We had a lovely look at the tiara as the Duchess was seen heading to the October 2018 state dinner in honor of King Willem-Alexander and his wife Queen Máxima of the Netherlands.
The Duchess was in a ruched and pleated Alexander McQueen gown for the function. The big jewelry news that evening: Queen Alexandra’s Wedding Necklace, loaned to her by The Queen for the gala (more info here). We also saw the tiara and Diana’s Collingwood earrings.
Kate brought back the Lover’s Knot and Collingwood earrings for 2018’s diplomatic reception. She wore an evening gown by Jenny Packham, as well as her Royal Family Order.
A better view.
This photo of the Duchess is not terrific because of the raindrops, but it is one of my favorite “through the car window” photos.
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 with her Alexander McQueen ruffled lace gown.
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 plenty of diamonds that evening, as she also wore the Nizam of Hyderabad necklace.
A better view of the tiara.
The Lover’s Knot appears to have become the Duchess’ 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 tiara 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 with 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.
That wraps up our look at the loaned jewelry pieces worn by the Duchess. In Part One we did an overview of Kate’s borrowed brooches.
Part Two covers the bracelets loaned to the Duchess by HM.
We look at the Duchess’ loaned earrings in Part Three.
And Part Four is our review of necklaces loaned to the Duchess by HM.
As ever, huge thanks to the lovely folks at The Royal Order of Splendor and sister-site Her Majesty’s Jewel Vault, along with Ella at The Court Jeweller. It is their knowledge providing the backbone of these posts.
Also today, a quick update on Hold Still merchandise being offered by the National Portrait Gallery shop. There are now posters available for preordering (£15 / $19.43) that feature images from the Hold Still online exhibition.
The selection includes ten different photos; each measures 20″ x 30″. Royal Mail shipping in the UK starts at £2.95; international shipping via DHL Courier starts at £20.
Today’s fashion flashback dates back to five years ago today when the Earl and Countess of Strathearn visited Dundee, Scotland.
The ensemble qualified as a one-hit-wonder in my mind; it was covered in this post.
The bespoke ensemble by Scottish-born designer Christopher Kane included a coat and skirt by the designer and a black turtleneck sweater. It remains a favorite.
Because we already reviewed this ensemble, let’s take a look at an outfit worn six years ago Wednesday when Kate and William welcomed the President of Singapore and his wife, Mrs. Tony Tan Keng Yam, to the United Kingdom.
The Duke and Duchess officially greeted the couple on behalf of the Queen, spending time with them at a London hotel. The two couples then traveled by car to Horse Guards Parade for ceremonies with the Queen, Prince Philip, and dignitaries.
Some readers may remember this was Kate’s first official public appearance in more than two months. She was expecting Princess Charlotte and had been dealing with the effects of Hyperemesis Gravidarum.
The Duchess wore a coat by Alexander McQueen for the day’s engagement.
It was a version of the label’s Box Pleat A-Line coat from the spring 2015 collection. You can see some minor modifications were made to Kate’s coat, most notably at the lapels: Kate’s does not have the longer lapels the off-the-rack piece has, not does it have the additional layer of fabric underneath the lapels.
Kate carried a new handbag.
It was Jenny Packham’s Roxy style in black suede from the A/W 2014 collection.
Kate’s bespoke Jane Taylor hat, previously worn Easter Sunday in Australia as seen below right. The hat is the ‘Lupin’ style, described by the designer as a teardrop beret in grey velour felt.
But in looking at photos, the sole of the shoe didn’t have the raised, gold Prada logo.
She also wore her Mappin & Webb Empress Mini White Gold & Diamond pendant.
As well as her Annoushka pearl drop earrings suspended from Kiki McDonough hoops.
I hope everyone is able to enjoy the weekend.
NOTE: The post has been corrected to say the Singapore fashion flashback was six years ago, not three as I originally wrote. Thank you, Jessica, for letting me know.
- The Royal Order of Splendor’s post on the Cartier Halo Tiara is here; Her Majesty’s Jewel Vault post about it is here; The Court Jeweller’s coverage of the tiara is here
- The Court Jeweller’s post on the Lotus Flower tiara is here; The Royal Order of Splendor’s coverage is here
- Coverage of the Lover’s Knot Tiara by The Royal Order of Splendor is here; The Court Jeweller’s is here