17 December 2018

The Teck Turquoise Tiara

The Duchess of Gloucester wears the Teck Turquoise Tiara, 2015 (JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

The incredible Gloucester tiara collection includes multiple pieces inherited from Queen Mary, including the Teck Turquoise Tiara. Combining turquoises with diamonds in an intricate design, the tiara has been worn by two generations of Gloucester duchesses.

The suite from the Illustrated London News drawings of Queen Mary's wedding gifts, 1893

The piece was originally made for Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge, a granddaughter of George III, who married Prince Francis, Duke of Teck. The tiara was a part of a parure of turquoise jewelry that was made for Mary Adelaide around 1850; the set also originally included a necklace, earrings, and three brooches. (Eventually, additional turquoise pieces were added to the suite of jewels.)

Queen Mary wears the tiara before its 1912 renovation

The Duke and Duchess of Teck's daughter, Princess Mary, received the turquoise set from her parents in stages. First, she was given the brooches as a confirmation present. Then, in 1893, the Tecks gave the rest of the parure to Mary as a wedding present. Her new husband was, of course, the future King George V, meaning that the turquoises would adorn a British queen consort. Always tinkering with her jewels, the turquoise tiara didn't escape Mary's eye for adaptation. The tiara was originally taller, but Mary had its size reduced in 1912 by E. Wolff and Co., who often did work for Garrard.

The tiara and is accompanying jewels are displayed with Princess Alice's wedding gifts

Two decades on, she gave the entire set to her new daughter-in-law, Alice, as a wedding present, echoing her own parents' gift. The suite was included in the elaborate display of Alice's wedding gifts, which you can learn more about here!

Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester wears the tiara and jewels at the Dorchester Hotel, 15 November 1955 (Keystone Pictures USA/Alamy)

Alice wore the tiara often, and even posed in it for a famous series of photographs taken by Cecil Beaton. Here, she wears the tiara and jewels in 1955 in London for a fashion show at the Dorchester Hotel.

Alice wears the tiara, with Prince William of Gloucester and the Queen Mother, during the Dutch state visit, 13 April 1972 (PA Images/Alamy)

She continued to wear the tiara throughout her life as a working royal. Above, Alice wears the suite in April 1972 during a state visit from Queen Juliana of the Netherlands. Also pictured here: the Queen Mother (more on her jewels from this occasion here) and Alice's elder son, Prince William of Gloucester. William died only four months later in a plane crash.


Today, the set is worn by Alice's daughter-in-law, Birgitte, the wife of the current Duke of Gloucester. It's not her most-worn tiara (that prize probably goes to the Honeysuckle Tiara, another legacy from Queen Mary), but it pops up now and again, as it did in March 2015 for the Guildhall banquet during the Mexican state visit. You'll recognize quite a few pieces from the parure on Birgitte in the image above, taken during that banquet.