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Christmas Sparkle at the Palace: All the Tiaras from the Diplomatic Reception

Picture by i-Images / Pool

The Queen hosted her annual Diplomatic Reception at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday evening. As one of the last white tie events on the British royal calendar, let’s look at the tiaras worn by Queen Elizabeth, The Duchess of Cornwall, and The Duchess of Cambridge.

Vladimir Tiara

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The Vladimir Tiara is one of Queen Elizabeth’s go-to tiaras. At the diplomatic reception, she wore it with the emerald and diamond drop setting.

Originally purchased by her grandmother, Queen Mary, in 1921 for £28,000, it was initially set in pearls.

Before it made its way into Queen Mary’s collection, the tiara had a long and colourful history: it was smuggled out of Russia following the revolution in 1918 by a British Secret Service agent who later returned it—along with other pieces of jewellery—to its owner, Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia.

Upon her death, the tiara was given to her daughter, Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovana, (the mother of Marina, The Duchess of Kent), who sold it to Queen Mary.

According to the Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor website, the Vladimir Tiara is made up on “15 intertwined diamond circles strung together with an undulating diamond ribbon on top and hung with pendant pearls.”

After Queen Mary purchased the tiara, she had the pearls removed and replaced with 15 Cambridge cabochon emeralds already in her collection. The tiara was altered in a way that the emeralds and pearls could be swapped in and out.

When Queen Mary died in 1953, Queen Elizabeth inherited the tiara from her and has worn it at several state occasions, including in her official portrait to represent the Queen of Canada.

Greville Tiara

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The Greville Tiara is most closely associated with The Duchess of Cornwall, though it also shares an impressive history with The Queen Mother.

Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother inherited the Greville Tiara, and the rest of Dame Margaret Greville’s jewellery collection, upon her death in 1942. Other pieces from the Greville bequeathal include the emerald tiara that Princess Eugenie wore at her wedding in 2018.

Dame Greville had no heirs and in the time of austerity in wartime, a lot of her jewellery pieces went into the vaults. It wasn’t until the postwar period that the Queen Mother began wearing the Greville Tiara.

According to the Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor, The Queen Mother altered the tiara slightly, “adding a little variation to the top line and finishing it off with a marquis-shaped diamond in the centre.”

It became one of her signature tiaras, and one of only two that she wore with regularity in her later years. Upon her death in 2002, Queen Elizabeth II inherited her mother’s jewellery through a sovereign to sovereign inheritance (avoiding an inheritance tax), and once Camilla joined the Royal Family, the Greville Tiara was loaned exclusively to the new Duchess of Cornwall.

Queen Mary’s Lover’s Knot Tiara

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The Duchess of Cambridge wore the Queen Mary’s Lover’s Knot Tiara. This tiara has been her most regularly worn piece. Others at her disposal include the Cartier Halo Tiara she wore on her wedding day and the Lotus Tiara she wore at the Chinese State Banquet in 2015.

The Queen Mary’s Lover’s Knot Tiara was created in 1913 by Garrard for the magpie queen. It was meant to be a copy of a tiara owned by her aunt, Augusta, Duchess of Cambridge—the Cambridge Lover’s Knot.

Though many confuse the two pieces, the tiara currently owned by the British Royal Family is not the Cambridge Lover’s Knot. Originally, it featured a row of pearls on the top, though those were removed and now just feature swinging pearls on diamond arches in a circlet of lover’s knots.

Queen Elizabeth used this as a regular piece in the 1950s, but it soon went back into the vault until Diana, Princess of Wales starting wearing it in the 1980s. After her divorce, the tiara once again went back into the vault until Kate wore it for the first time in 2015.

About author

Jess is a communications professional and freelance writer who lives in Halifax and has a passion for all things royal, particularly the British Royal Family.