Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tiara Thursday: Queen Mary's Fringe Tiara

Here we have a love it or hate it piece that may be worn rather infrequently these days, but packs quite a history nonetheless.
I prefer calling this one Queen Mary's Fringe Tiara, but you will also see it referred to as the King George III Fringe Tiara, or the Hanoverian Fringe Tiara, or some such other variation. This all stems from a bit of confusion around the origin of the piece.

In The Queen's Jewels, Leslie Field says that this was commissioned in 1830 using diamonds that had belonged to George III. She goes on further to state that Queen Victoria left the piece to the Crown, Queen Mary inherited it in 1910, and that Mary gave it to Queen Elizabeth (the future Queen Mother) in 1937.
The Royal Collection tells a different story, and since they are the authorities, I'm buying their version of the tale. They state that Queen Mary had the piece made in 1919 from a necklace she received from Queen Victoria as a wedding present. (You can magnify the piece at the Royal Collection site, which greatly improves your drooling material.) They also dispel the Hanoverian myth by specifying that Victoria bought the necklace from Collingwood & Co. jewelers in 1893. I'll wager a guess that the converted necklace in question is the one we see here:
According to the Royal Collection, it was given to Queen Elizabeth in 1936. (Pretty much the only thing they agree on is that this tiara can also be worn as a necklace. I've never seen a picture of it worn that way, though.)
Elizabeth lent it to her namesake daughter for its history-making appearance atop the bridal veil. (Does it appear to not be centered properly to anyone else? This has always bugged me about the Queen's wedding pictures.)
And then she lent it out again to her granddaughter, Princess Anne, for another bridal appearance.
Apart from these weddings, this piece remained out of the public eye for decades as the Queen Mother seemed to prefer two of her other tiaras for her own use in her later years. But then, in a thoroughly uncharacteristic move, Queen Elizabeth brought it out after the Queen Mother's death.
You see, tiara hair really is everything. And that, my friends, is one of the reasons why I'd like to see it on Kate. I love a good fringe; I know many of you don't. But apart from the ever-present danger of getting one's eye poked out by this spikey bit of bling, I think it'd be a great choice for Kate. It's got history, but it's not an overt favorite. (The Queen doesn't tend to share her favorites.) The design is refreshingly modern for such a storied shape, and Kate's shown a more modern, simple style to date.

I wonder, though, if we might see it on Zara now instead. I'd rather see Zara in the Meander Tiara from her mother on her wedding day, but perhaps the sentiment of wearing the tiara worn by her grandmother and her mother will win the day?

Photos: PA/Munn/Fields/Royal Collection

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