The Portland Tiara, commissioned for a duchess to wear at a glittering and hugely important royal occasion, has been stolen. The diadem, made by Cartier in 1902 ahead of the coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, was taken on Tuesday night from the gallery where it is on display.
Thieves broke into the Portland Collection Gallery on the Welbeck Estate in Worksop, Nottinghamshire between 9.45 and 10pm on November 20th. Police say they took the tiara, along with a diamond brooch, from an armoured display case while alarms sounded around the gallery.
The tiara’s royal links stretch back over a century. It was commissioned by William Cavendish-Bentinck, 6th Duke of Portland, for his wife, Winifred, ahead of Edward VII’s coronation which was due to take place in June 1902 but had to be put back several weeks after the new king developed appendicitis. The Duchess of Portland served as one of four canopy bearers to Queen Alexandra during the ceremony at Westminster Abbey on August 9th 1902. Along with other peeresses of the realm, she held a golden canopy above Alexandra as she was anointed in a solemn and private moment of the coronation ceremony.
The new tiara that the Duchess of Portland wore for this important role was designed to impress. The diadem contained diamonds belonging to the family arranged in a scroll design and also featured larger diamond drops. The centrepiece of the diadem, which is set in gold and silver, is the Portland diamond which had belonged to the family since the 19th century. The brooch which was taken in the robbery this month is also made entirely of diamonds, stones that once sat on top of the tiara itself.
Winifred, Duchess of Portland, who would go on to become Mistress of the Robes to Queen Alexandra in 1913, wore the tiara frequently. It remained with the family after her death and wasn’t among the pieces sold off in 2010 in a famous auction.
Officers investigating the robbery say they are looking at a number of lines of inquiry and are focusing on a silver Audi S5 which was found burned out in nearby Bildworth around half an hour after the theft. They are appealing for anyone with any information to get in touch with them or to contact Crimestoppers.