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The tiara worn by Diana on the day she became a princess

Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales
Joe Haupt via Flickr

In recent years, British royals, when in need of a wedding day tiara, put in a request to the Queen, who seems happy to oblige. But forty years ago when the world tuned in to watch Lady Diana Spencer wed Prince Charles, the bride wore her family’s tiara for the big day.

The Spencers are a British aristocratic family that can trace their history back for centuries. The Spencer Tiara was created over 100 years ago. It began with the central piece of the diadem which was given as wedding present to Lady Cynthia Hamilton in 1919 when she married Albert, Viscount Althorp, the future 7th Earl Spencer. Lady Sarah Isabella Spencer, Albert’s great aunt, is the one who gave the new couple the central piece. Sadly, Lady Sarah passed away later in the year.

The ends of the tiara are from the now-extinct Montagu family. This family line ended in 1797 with the death of the 9th Viscount Montagu, Mark Browne. It is not known how Lady Sarah acquired these pieces but she passed them down to Albert and Cynthia, Diana’s grandparents.

Garrards, the world famous jeweler with ties to the Royal Family since 1735, pulled all the elements together to create what we see today. The final design is thought to have been completed in the 1930’s and is comprised of diamonds made into stars, tulips and scrolls. 

Diana’s two sisters, Lady Sarah McCorquodale and Lady Jane Fellowes each wore the tiara when they married as did Victoria Lockwood, the first wife of Diana’s brother, Charles, the current Earl Spencer.

Once Diana became Diana, Princess of Wales, she was allowed to use a royal tiara, the Cambridge Lover’s Knot. But the Spencer tiara continued to be a favourite of hers. It is said to be lighter and easier to wear. 

The Spencer tiara was last seen in 2018 when Diana’s niece, Celia McCorquodale, wore it for her wedding. Another of Diana’s nieces, Lady Kitty Spencer, who wed earlier this month, opted for no tiara for her wedding.

The Spencer tiara was also part of traveling exhibits on Diana’s life and is now back in the possession of the Spencer family.  

There is much more on Charles and Diana’s wedding in our book. Royal Weddings: A Collection is available on Amazon as an ebook or paperback.