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Five royal brides who didn’t wear tiaras

Royal weddings bring all kinds of expectations and among them is one filled with sparkle and glitter. For we all assume a royal bride will arrive for her marriage wearing a tiara. When the wedding will result in them becoming a consort or consort in waiting, the expectation is even higher. However, some of the most high profile royal brides of recent times have decided to ditch the diadem. Royal Central takes a look at five brides who went tiara free for their royal weddings.

1. Princess Grace of Monaco

It might have been one of the most famous weddings ever, with millions following every moment of the whirlwind romance and glamorous celebrations, but when Oscar-winning actress Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 1956, she did it without a tiara.

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Grace’s bridal look had been put together by MGM’s designer, Helen Rose, and was remarkably jewel free. Instead of a tiara, the bride’s veil was held in place by a lace covered Juliet cap that matched the famous wedding dress which Grace wore for her religious ceremony at Monaco Cathedral on April 19th 1956.

2. Queen Paola of Belgium

She might have been marrying the then heir to the Belgian throne, but when Paola Ruffo di Calabria said ‘I do’ to Albert, Prince of Liege, she had absolutely no expectation that they would ever end up as Belgium’s king and queen.  There was no place for a tiara in the bride’s outfit with the main focus falling on the antique lace veil first used by Paola’s Belgian born grandmother. The bride held this Brussels lace heirloom in place with a simple arrangement of orange blossoms rather than a diadem.

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Guest of honour at the wedding, on July 2nd 1959 at St Michael and St Gudula’s Cathedral in Brussels, was the groom’s older brother, King Baudouin of the Belgians, who was expected to marry and pass the crown to his own children. Baudouin married the following year but he and his wife, Queen Fabiola, suffered the sadness of several miscarriages and never got the chance to raise a family of their own. Instead, the throne passed to Albert when Baudouin died in 1991.

3. Queen Sonja of Norway

In August 1968, all eyes were on Oslo for one of the biggest and most talked about royal weddings of recent times. The heir to the throne of Norway, Crown Prince Harald, finally married Sonja Haraldsen, after seeing off opposition from those who felt a future king shouldn’t marry a non-royal.

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The bride chose a very Sixties style wedding dress, with minimal embellishment, and a very Sixties hair ornament. There was definitely no place for a tiara here as Sonja’s tulle veil was held in place by an arrangement of white artificial flowers for her wedding at Oslo Cathedral on August 29th 1968.

4. The Duchess of Cornwall

Camilla Parker Bowles had not one but two royal wedding outfits for her marriage to the Prince of Wales on April 9th 2005, but neither of them had room for a tiara. While there was never any expectation that Camilla would turn up to Windsor Guildhall for her civil marriage decked out in a diadem, the ensemble was chosen for her blessing at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor the same day was another matter.

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However, rather than going for a traditional tiara, the new wife of the heir to the throne chose to wear a statement fascinator. Designed by Philip Treacy, who had created the cream hat worn for the earlier ceremony, it featured a dramatic spray of gold feathers.

5. Princess Charlene of Monaco

And so we return to Monaco. Princess Grace’s daughter in law, and successor as consort in Monaco, also chose to go tiara free for her religious wedding ceremony. Instead, Charlene Wittstock wore a cluster of diamond hair clips that had once belonged to her new husband’s grandmother.

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The bride wore the clips around the chignon at the back of her hair during the wedding which took place at the Prince’s Palace in Monaco on July 2nd 2011. And by doing so, she joined an elite group of rather important royal brides who all decided to buck modern royal wedding tradition and go tiara free on their big day.

About author

Lydia Starbuck is Jubilee and Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton who is a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. Her latest book, A History of British Royal Jubilees, is out now. Her new book, The Mysterious Death of Katherine Parr, will be published in March 2024. June is an award winning reporter, producer and editor. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.