08 August 2015

Saturday Sparkler: The Cubitt Tiara

Since marrying into the British royal family in 2005, the Duchess of Cornwall has had a number of magnificent tiaras at her disposal, including the Greville Tiara and the tiara from the Delhi Durbar parure. Even so, Camilla still sometimes reaches for another sparkler: the tiara she inherited from her own family.

The Cubitt Tiara (sometimes called the Cubitt-Shand Tiara) belonged to Camilla's grandmother, Sonia Keppel, who has her own set of links to the Windsors. Sonia's mother was Alice Keppel, who is best known to history as the last mistress of King Edward VII.

Sonia (pictured on the right in the photograph above) was married to the Hon. Roland Cubitt -- hence the name of this diamond floral tiara -- and had three children before divorcing. (Interestingly, Roland and Sonia's divorce was finalized on July 4, 1947, only days before the birth of their first grandchild: Camilla, who would later become the Duchess of Cornwall.)

Sonia lent her diamond tiara to Camilla for her 1973 wedding to Andrew Parker Bowles. You can see the tiara's distinctively tall center section above Camilla's hairstyle in pictures from the day.

When Sonia died in 1986, the tiara was inherited by Camilla's mother, Rosalind. She married Major Bruce Shand, a WWII hero, in 1946. That's their wedding picture above -- Rosalind chose to wear flowers instead of a tiara at her wedding. In fact, I haven't seen any photographs of Rosalind Shand wearing the tiara.

Rosalind died in 1994, and she left the tiara to her elder daughter, Camilla. After Camilla married Prince Charles in 2005, she wore the tiara to the annual diplomatic reception at Buckingham Palace. She wore the tiara again for the same event in 2014 (pictured above).

Camilla also loaned the tiara to her daughter, Laura, for her wedding to Harry Lopes in 2006.

We also got a good look at the tiara at a dinner at the Royal Academy of the Arts in June. I can understand why Camilla has become so partial to the grand Greville Tiara over the past decade, but I also get why she'd want to pop on this smaller sparkler occasionally -- it's a bit easier to balance, I'd imagine!