23 February 2019

Queen Mary's Lover's Knot Tiara

The Duchess of Cambridge wears Queen Mary's Lover's Knot Tiara, December 2018 (Victoria Jones - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Many royal tiaras become strongly associated with one royal wearer -- but it's a rare tiara that has been worn by four spectacular royal ladies. Today's sparkler, Queen Mary's Lover's Knot Tiara, is one of those special cases.

Queen Mary wears her Lover's Knot Tiara in a 1927 portrait by Arthur Trevethin Nowell (Grand Ladies Site)

In 1913, Queen Mary decided to add a new tiara to her already-extensive collection of diadems. For inspiration, she turned to a tiara she'd long admired: the Cambridge Lover's Knot Tiara, worn for years by her aunt, the Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. (Learn more about the Cambridge Lover's Knot Tiara here!) Since Mary wasn't able to inherit or buy the original tiara, she went for the next best thing: she commissioned Garrard to make a copy of it.

Diana wears the Lover's Knot Tiara in its current form (screencapture)

The new lover's knot tiara was created in 1913. Originally it was topped with a row of upright pearls, making it even taller and grander than the present version; these are the same pearls that once sat atop the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara. The upright pearls were later removed from the tiara, and now a row of diamond brilliants sit along the top of the piece.

Queen Elizabeth II wears the Lover's Knot Tiara in India, 1960 (SAM PANTHAKY/AFP/Getty Images)

The tiara arrived in the jewelry collection of the current Queen in 1953, when she inherited Queen Mary’s jewels after her death. Elizabeth II wore the tiara, sans upright pearls, for many years.

Diana wears the Lover's Knot Tiara (FRANK AUGSTEIN/AFP/Getty Images)

In 1981, she chose this tiara to give to her new daughter-in-law, Diana Spencer. Diana alternated between wearing this tiara and her family’s diamond tiara during her tenure as Princess of Wales, and several famous photographs of the princess feature the sparkler. (There were also reports that the weight of this tiara gave her headaches, which is why she often reverted to her family's tiara, though I'm not sure what the original source of that anecdote is.)

Diana wears the Lover's Knot Tiara, ca. 1990s (JON LEVY/AFP/Getty Images)

When Charles and Diana divorced in 1996, most sources state that she returned the tiara to the Queen. Basically, although the Queen gave the tiara to her daughter-in-law, she essentially gave it to the Princess of Wales, not Lady Diana Spencer. When Diana vacated that title, she also apparently vacated the tiara. She was able to keep personal gifts, but not official ones, and that apparently included this tiara. By the time she died in 1997, the tiara had been returned to the palace vaults.

The Duchess of Cambridge wears the Lover's Knot Tiara for the annual Diplomatic Reception, December 2018 (Victoria Jones - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

In the twenty-first century, a new British princess has begun wearing the tiara. Diana's daughter-in-law, the Duchess of Cambridge, debuted the tiara at a diplomatic reception in December 2015, and since then, it has become her most-worn sparkler.

Note: This is an updated and expanded version of an earlier post.