Queen Elizabeth II’s Top Ten Sparkling Tiaras

Queen Elizabeth II is said to have one of the largest privately owned jewelry collections, which has been added to successive generations of royalty to reflect the longevity of the monarchy.

The tiara has a special place in the royal jewelry collection. Perhaps more than any other jewel at the Queen’s disposal, aside from a crown, the tiara is the most powerful symbol of royal status, worn for state and special occasions.

Rarely does the Queen lend some of her most precious jewelry to members of her family. Unlike some European monarchies whose jewels are kept in a trust or fund, the Queen’s private jewels remain under her control and are lent at her discretion. Tiaras are extremely rarely lent on the occasion of a royal wedding or a state banquet.

From her iconic Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara to her lesser-known, but no less spectacular, Brazilian aquamarine diadem, the Queen owns some of the largest and most sparkly tiaras in the world.

Here, news week looks at just ten of the British monarch’s most glittering headdresses.

Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara

The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland’s tiara is so named because it was paid for by members of that group as a wedding gift for the Queen’s grandmother, Queen Mary.

Queen Elizabeth II Girls of GB&I Tiara
The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara was given to Queen Mary as a wedding present and she in turn gave it to her granddaughter, Elizabeth II, in 1947. Photographed during a state visit to Berlin on 24 June 2015.
Michael Ukas/Swimming Pool /Getty Images

Mary was an avid jewelry collector and throughout her life she constantly remodeled and adapted her pieces. This tiara had a base added and could be worn as a closed circle or an open tiara.

In 1947 Mary gave the tiara to her granddaughter Elizabeth as a wedding present and since then it has been worn more often than her other tiaras.

Queen Alexandra’s Kokoshnik Tiara

Queen Alexandra, wife of Queen Victoria’s eldest son, Edward VII, was given a grand tiara of diamond bars, arranged in the Russian kraken style, in 1888 by 365 noblemen as a silver wedding anniversary gift.

Queen Elizabeth II Kokoshnik Tiara
Queen Elizabeth II inherited her great-grandmother Queen Alexandra’s coconut tiara in 1953 and has been wearing it regularly ever since. Photographed on June 25, 1990 during a visit to Iceland.
Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

Alexandra was known for her highly fashionable taste and the tiara echoed that of her sister, the Empress Maria Feodorovna of Russia, mother of the last Tsar, Nicholas II.

Alexandra left the tiara to her daughter-in-law, Queen Mary, from whom Elizabeth II inherited it after her death in 1953.

Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara

Grand Duchess Vladimir of Russia was one of the wealthiest members of the Imperial Royal Family at the time of the Russian Revolution, with a huge jewelry collection.

When she had to flee St Petersburg during the revolution, she left her vast collection of jewels in a safe that was later smuggled out of the country in two smooth stone bags by a British diplomat.

Queen Elizabeth Vladimir Tiara
Queen Elizabeth II’s Grand Duchess Vladimir tiara can be worn with interchangeable pearl and emerald drops. Photographed at a diplomatic reception on December 11, 2019.
Victoria Jones/WPA Pool/Getty Images

The Grand Duchess died before being reunited with the jewels, and her daughter, Princess Nicholas of Greece, decided to sell some pieces in the 1920s. Queen Mary was an avid buyer of the Grand Duchess’s most famous tiara, made by Bolin in the form of diamond loops with swinging pearls.

Mary had the tiara altered to accommodate swinging emerald pendants that were interchangeable with the pearl pendants, and when she died in 1953 the piece was inherited by her granddaughter Elizabeth II.

Queen Mary’s Diamond and Pearl Lover’s Knot Tiara

Queen Mary had a diamond and pearl knotted tiara made in the 1920s to replicate a much older piece owned by her beloved aunt, the Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Born a British princess, a daughter of George III’s son Adolphus Duke of Cambridge, the Grand Duchess’s jewel was known as the Cambridge Lover’s Bun Tiara.

Mary’s modern version was made from older stones in her collection and became one of her most worn pieces in later years.

Princess Diana Pearl Tiara
Princess Diana has become synonymous with Queen Mary’s diamond and pearl lover’s knot tiara, which was loaned to her upon her wedding to the Prince of Wales. Since then, the tiara has been worn by Kate Middleton. Photographed November 11, 1985.
Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

Elizabeth II inherited the tiara in 1953 and wore it a few times during the early years of her reign. It is most closely associated with Princess Diana, who was loaned the tiara over the course of her marriage to Prince Charles.

The piece is now worn by Kate Middleton at state banquets and diplomatic receptions.

Queen Mary’s Fringe Tiara

Queen Mary owned a number of fringe tiaras, but the one that has taken on the most significance was made in 1913 from a diamond necklace given to her by Queen Victoria as a wedding gift.

Queen Elizabeth II wedding tiara
Queen Elizabeth II wore her grandmother, Queen Mary’s pony tiara on her wedding day. Photographed at Buckingham Palace in London on November 20, 1947.
Central Press/Getty Images

In 1947, Mary lent this tiara to her granddaughter Elizabeth to wear to her wedding to Prince Philip. As the bride prepared to leave for Westminster Abbey, the tiara broke on the frame and the diamond spikes popped loose. The Crown Jeweler was sent to make a quick repair and all was well by the time the vows were taken.

The Queen lent the tiara to her daughter Princess Anne for her marriage in 1973 and also to her granddaughter Princess Beatrice for her wedding in 2020.

Sapphire Tiara

There are very few tiaras in the Queen’s collection that she bought or had made for herself, but one of them is a sapphire-and-diamond specimen that was originally a necklace.

Queen Elizabeth II Sapphire Tiara
Queen Elizabeth II bought a sapphire tiara to match an array of jewelry given to her father, King George VI. Photographed on March 27, 1996.
Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

The Queen added the tiara to her collection sometime in the 1960s, and its provenance goes back to a 19th-century Belgian princess.

The Queen wears the tiara with an array of sapphire and diamond jewelry that her father gifted her during his lifetime. These jewels date back to the time of Queen Victoria.

Brazilian Aquamarine Tiara

In 1953, the Brazilian people donated diamonds and aquamarine jewelry to Queen Elizabeth II on the occasion of her coronation. During the early years of her reign, more aquamarines and diamonds were given on special occasions such as state visits and eventually the Queen had the Crown Jewelers modify some of them to form a grand modern tiara.

Queen Elizabeth II Aquamarine Tiara
Queen Elizabeth II’s aquamarine tiara is made from stone gifts from the people of Brazil. Photographed in Perth, Australia, on October 28, 2011.
RON D’RAINE/AFP via Getty Images/ROB GRIFFITH/AFP via Getty Images

One of the most impressive tiaras in terms of design, the piece has become a Queen’s favorite over the decades and has been worn on numerous important state occasions.

Burmese Ruby Tiara

Another piece ordered by the Queen herself, the Burmese Ruby Tiara, was made in the 1970s from an older tiara given to the Queen as a wedding gift in 1947.

Queen Elizabeth II Ruby Tiara
The ruby ​​red tiara of Queen Elizabeth II is made in the design of roses. Photographed during US President Donald Trump’s state visit on June 3, 2019.
ALASAIR GRANT/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The new tiara is made in a rose design and features rubies and diamonds. The tiara is one of the most modern pieces in the Queen’s collection and was made by Garrard’s.

Cartier Halo Tiara

The Cartier halo tiara was given to Elizabeth II by her parents as a gift for her eighteenth birthday.

The piece was originally purchased by George VI as a birthday present for his wife Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother) in 1936.

Kate Middleton Wedding Tiara
The Cartier halo tiara was given to the Queen by her parents as a birthday present. Kate Middleton was given the tiara on loan for her wedding to Prince William at Westminster Abbey in London on April 29, 2011.
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

The Queen has not been publicly photographed wearing the tiara, but in the 1950s she lent it to her sister, Princess Margaret, and in 2011, she lent it to Kate Middleton to wear on her wedding day.

Queen Mary’s Bandeau

Queen Mary kept abreast of modern fashion when it came to jewelry and in 1932 had a special modern bandeau tiara made for a large center diamond brooch presented to her as a wedding gift by the County of Lincoln in 1893.

Meghan Markle Wedding Tiara Queen Mary Bandeau
The Queen lent Meghan Markle Queen Mary’s diamond bandeau tiara for her wedding to Prince Harry. Photographed at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor, England on May 19, 2018.
Jonathan Brady/WPA Pool/Getty Images

Mary wore the tiara throughout the 1930s and also lent it to her glamorous daughter-in-law Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent.

The Queen inherited the tiara in 1953 and it wasn’t seen again until 2018 when it appeared on Meghan Markle’s head as she married Prince Harry at St George’s Chapel, Windsor.

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