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From queen’s necklace to wedding tiara – the sparkling story of one of the most famous royal gems of all

Beatrice, Edoardo crop

It’s become one of the big questions in the run up to a royal marriage – which tiara will the bride wear? It’s now an accepted part of any Windsor wedding and the decision of Princess Beatrice to wear the same tiara as her grandmother did as a bride for her big day is both sentimental and rather significant.

For Beatrice is now the third generation of Queen Elizabeth II’s family to wear this all diamond diadem for her wedding day. The Princess Royal also chose this tiara for her first marriage in 1973. A gem that almost fell apart before its first royal marriage outing is now firmly cemented as the ultimate Windsor wedding tiara.

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And these sparklers link the modern royals with the past in some rather special ways, too. They began life as a necklace, presented by Queen Victoria to the princess she had selected as a future queen consort. When Mary of Teck married the future George V, on July 6th 1893, she received endless jewels as wedding gifts from relations and amongst them was that diamond necklace from Victoria. Mary later had it turned into a tiara to add to her rather impressive collection.

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By 1947, the role of royal matriarch had passed to Mary and as her beloved granddaughter, Elizabeth, got ready for her own marriage, it was this tiara that ended up in the starring role as the bride’s pick. It was far from ready for its close up. It broke just as the princess was dressing, causing its very own version of royal wedding day panic. The bride’s mother, later the Queen Mother, famously told her daughter not to worry as there were plenty of others to choose from, an understatement if ever there was one. But Elizabeth, calm and determined, had her heart set on this fringe tiara. It was sent off for some quick repairs and when she appeared at Westminster Abbey just hours later, no one was any the wiser.

That is until they examine the photos. It is clear in the wedding album that a slight wobble has appeared in the rows of diamonds set in gold and silver. However, it held together and its place in royal wedding history was cemented when Elizabeth II’s only daughter, Anne, chose to wear the same diadem for her marriage to Captain Mark Phillips on November 14th 1973. On this occasion, the diamonds didn’t break but given Anne’s reputation for a steely gaze, they perhaps didn’t dare.

The decision of Beatrice to also wear this rather pretty if simple fringe tiara means that it has now been used by three generations of House of Windsor and gives it a real royal wedding link. No pressure on Princess Charlotte but this sparkler is now the go to for royal brides.

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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.