13 January 2018

The Queen Mother's Cartier Bracelet Bandeau

The Queen Mother wears her Cartier Bracelet Bandeau

With a royal wedding quickly approaching, I've been asked numerous times about possible wedding tiaras for Meghan Markle. I've got a whole post on the subject over here, but today, we're going to take a closer look at one of my favorite long-shot candidates: the Queen Mother's Cartier Bracelet Bandeau.

A catalogue photograph of the bracelets set on their bandeau frame

I'm calling the tiara a long-shot for a simple reason: it hasn't been worn in public for almost a century. The piece dates to the time when the Queen Mother was still the newly-married Duchess of York. In the 1920s, the Duke of York (later King George VI) bought his new wife a set of Art Deco bracelets from Cartier. Each of the five bracelets in the set features a different gemstone: one with sapphires, one with emeralds, one with rubies, and two with diamonds. The bandeau is made up of three of those bracelets worn together on a frame.

The Queen Mother wears the bandeau

The Queen Mum wore the tiara a few times in public, during the '20s and '30s era when the bandeau was uber-fashionable. She had a number of bandeau-style tiaras, including the Lotus Flower (now worn on a traditional frame by the Duchess of Cambridge), the Strathmore Rose (which was photographed in 2012, but hasn't been worn for nearly as long as the bracelet bandeau) and the rarely-seen double-row meander (worn most recently by Princess Anne).

Embed from Getty Images

The tiara may not have been worn in decades, but the bracelets now belong to the Queen, and she's worn them occasionally over the years, stacking them in different configurations. She's been wearing them since long before the Queen Mother's death, so they may have been either loaned or given to her by her mother during her lifetime. Above, the Queen wears both of the diamond bracelets in Tuvalu in October 1982.

Chris Jackson/Getty Images

You can see a very clear image of all five of the bracelets in an excellent book on the Queen's wardrobe and jewelry, Angela Kelly's Dressing the Queen. I'm hoping with fingers crossed that the original bandeau frame for the bracelets also still exists in the royal vaults. The sleek, modern profile of the bracelets would look beautiful on Meghan, who so far has favored minimalistic, unfussy jewelry. Plus, if Meghan wore the diamond-sapphire-diamond bracelet combo, it would also give her a little "something blue" in sparkling form for her wedding day!