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British Royals

The tiara left by a princess to her young godson to give to his future bride

The Duchess of Gloucester has a jewellery collection to rival some of those held by royal dynasties in Europe. Some of her pieces come from Queen Mary thanks to the current duke’s mother and her mother-in-law, Princess Alice. But one tiara in particular has a different origin, coming from a lesser-known branch of Queen Victoria’s family tree. It’s known as the Cartier India Tiara.

The tiara was owned by one of Queen Victoria’s granddaughters, Princess Marie Louise. Rendered in sapphires, pearls, and diamonds, the tiara is inspired by the Indian-style jewels created by Cartier in the 1920s which took their inspiration from Indian architecture. In 1923, Beatrice Mills, the Countess of Granard bought the tiara and had it mounted with not one, but multiple art deco diamond brooches instead of aquamarines. The tiara would later be returned to Cartier around 1937.

Following the return in 1937, Princess Marie Louise would acquire the piece to wear at the Coronation of King George VI in 1937. It would be continued to be worn for years including at the 1953 Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Notably, she is said to have hidden sandwiches in her coronet.

Marie Louise would wear the tiara for the Swedish State Visit to Britain in 1954 and a number of portraits by Cecil Beaton. On the death of the princess in 1956, the tiara was left to her godson, Prince Richard. At the time, he was only 12 years old so it went to the collection of his mother, Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester. Princess Alice had said she couldn’t wear it because it was too heavy and too big.

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As a younger son, the tiara was meant to be worn by Prince Richard’s wife, the future Princess Richard of Gloucester. Following an untimely crash that killed Richard’s elder brother in the weeks following Richard’s wedding to Birgitte, she got access to the family’s entire jewellery collection. During the 80s, the Cartier Indian Tiara made a few appearances.

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While the duchess has switched out this tiara with others including the Gloucester Honeysuckle Tiara, and the Iveagh Tiara, this one continues to be seen in the public eye. Its most recent appearances were at the Dutch State Banquet at Buckingham Palace in 2018 as well as the South African State Banquet, also at Buckingham Palace, in 2022.

About author

My name is Sydney Zatz and I am a University of Iowa graduate. I graduated with a degree in journalism and sports studies, and a minor in sport and recreation management. A highlight of my college career was getting the chance to study abroad in London and experiencing royal history firsthand. I have a passion for royals, royal history, and journalism, which led me to want to write for Royal Central.