Queen Elizabeth II’s Top Ten Sparkling Tiaras


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

The tiara occupies a special place in the collection of royal jewelry. Perhaps more than any other piece of jewelery available to the queen other than a crown, the tiara is the most powerful symbol of royal status, worn for state and special occasions.

Rarely, the Queen lends some of her most prized jewels to members of her family. Unlike some of the European monarchies whose jewels are held in a trust or fund, the Queen’s private jewels remain under her control and are loaned out at her discretion. Tiaras are very 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 tiara, the Queen has some of the world’s grandest and most sparkling tiaras in her possession.

Right here, Newsweek examines just ten of the British monarch’s most sparkling head ornaments.

Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara

The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara is so called because it was paid for by members of this group as a wedding present for the Queen’s grandmother, Queen Mary.

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

Mary was an avid jewelry collector and constantly remodeled and adapted her pieces throughout her life. This tiara had an added base and could be worn either as a closed circle or as 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 times than any of her other tiaras.

Queen Alexandra’s Kokoshnik Tiara

Queen Alexandra, wife of Queen Victoria’s eldest son, Edward VII, received a large diadem of diamond bars arranged in the Russian kokoshnik style in 1888 by 365 peers as a silver wedding anniversary gift.

Queen Elizabeth II Kokoshnik Tiara
Queen Elizabeth II inherited the kokoshnik tiara from her great-grandmother Queen Alexandra in 1953 and has worn it regularly ever since. Photographed June 25, 1990 during a visit to Iceland.
Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

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

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

Tiara of Grand Duchess Vladimir

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

When she had to flee Saint Petersburg during the revolution, she left her huge collection of jewelry hidden in a safe which was later smuggled out of the country in two crystal 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 during a diplomatic reception on December 11, 2019.
Victoria Jones/WPA Pool/Getty Images

The Grand Duchess died before finding the jewels and her daughter, Princess Nicholas of Greece, decided to sell some of the pieces in the 1920s. Queen Mary was an enthusiastic 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 modified to accommodate swinging emerald pendants which were interchangeable with pearl ones 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 lover’s knot tiara made in the 1920s to replicate a much older piece belonging to her beloved aunt, the Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Born a British princess, the daughter of George III’s son, Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge, the Grand Duchess’s piece of jewelery was known as the Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara.

Mary’s modern version was made with older stones from her collection and has become one of her most worn pieces in recent years.

Princess Diana's Pearl Tiara
Princess Diana has become synonymous with Queen Mary’s diamond and pearl lover’s bow tiara, which was lent to her when she married 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 became most closely associated with Princess Diana, to whom the tiara was loaned during her marriage to Prince Charles.

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

Queen Mary Fringed Tiara

Queen Mary owned a number of fringed tiaras, but the one that rose to prominence was made in 1913 from a diamond necklace given to her as a wedding gift by Queen Victoria.

Queen Elizabeth II wedding tiara
Queen Elizabeth II wore her grandmother Queen Mary’s fringed 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 at her wedding to Prince Philip. As the bride prepared to leave for Westminster Abbey, the tiara broke on its frame and the diamond tips came off. The crown jeweler was sent in 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 wedding in 1973 and also to her granddaughter Princess Beatrice for her wedding in 2020.

sapphire tiara

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

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

The Queen added the tiara to her collection in the 1960s and it is believed to have a provenance dating back to a 19th century Belgian princess.

The Queen wears the tiara with a suite of sapphire and diamond jewelry that her father gave her as a gift during his lifetime. These jewels date back to the time of Queen Victoria.

Aquamarine Brazilian Tiara

In 1953, the people of Brazil donated diamond and aquamarine jewelry to Queen Elizabeth II to mark 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 asked the crown jewelers to adapt some of them to form a large modern diadem.

Queen Elizabeth II Aquamarine Tiara
Queen Elizabeth II’s aquamarine tiara was made from stone donations from the Brazilian people. 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 favorite of the Queen over the past decades, having been worn on many important state occasions.

Burmese ruby ​​diadem

Another piece the Queen commissioned 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 Queen Elizabeth II ruby ​​tiara is made in the design of roses. Photographed during the state visit of US President Donald Trump on June 3, 2019.
ALASTAIR GRANT/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The new tiara was done in a pink 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.

Cartier Halo Tiara

Cartier’s halo tiara was given to Elizabeth II as an eighteenth birthday present by her parents.

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

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

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

Headband of Queen Mary

Queen Mary kept abreast of modern jewelry fashions and in 1932 had a special modern bandeau tiara made to accommodate a large center diamond brooch presented to her by Lincoln County in 1893 as a wedding gift.

Meghan Markle Wedding Tiara Headband Queen Mary
The Queen lent Meghan Markle Queen Mary’s diamond headband tiara for her wedding to Prince Harry. Pictured 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 was only seen again in 2018 when it appeared on Meghan Markle’s head when she married Prince Harry at St George’s Chapel, Windsor.

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