18 May 2019

The Kent City of London Fringe Tiara

The Kent City of London Fringe Tiara (Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Today in Windsor, one of the members of the Kent branch of the British royal family, Lady Gabriella Windsor, will marry her fiancé at St. George's Chapel. In honor of her wedding day, we've got a look at the Kent City of London Fringe Tiara, a diamond tiara worn by two Kent brides, including Gabriella's mother.




The Kent City of London Fringe Tiara (Trinity Mirror/Mirrorpix/Alamy)

When Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark popped across the channel to marry the Duke of Kent in 1934, the wedding gifts were plentiful — after all, it wasn't every day that a British prince married a real, honest-to-goodness princess. One of the sparkliest of those presents was the elegant Kent City of London Fringe Tiara. (Can you guess who was behind the gift? You've got it: it was the City of London!)


Princess Marina on her wedding day, wearing a different fringe tiara, the Vladimir Fringe (Photo12 Archive/Alamy)

Some sources claim that Marina secured her bridal veil with the City of London Fringe Tiara, but Marina didn't actually wear that particular tiara on her wedding day. She wore another very similar diamond fringe tiara: the Vladimir Fringe Tiara, which she borrowed from her mother, Princess Nicholas of Greece and Denmark. Marina's father was a Greek prince, but her mother was a Russian grand duchess, and this fringe tiara was an inheritance from her mother, Grand Duchess Vladimir.


Marina's two fringe tiaras: the Vladimir Fringe Tiara (on Princess Nicholas of Greece), which she wore on her wedding day, and the Kent City of London Fringe Tiara (on Princess Michael of Kent), which she received as a wedding gift (Wikimedia Commons/Trinity Mirror/Mirrorpix/Alamy)

The composite image above shows both of the fringe tiaras side by side, so the differences between them are clearer. Both tiaras feature diamond fringes and spikes, but their profiles are slightly different, and the position of the spikes on the Vladimir Fringe makes it appear to have a more solid base than the City of London Fringe. The fringes of the Vladimir are also noticeably farther apart. (Learn more about the history of the Vladimir Fringe here!)


Princess Marina wears the tiara in Ghana, February 1957 (Central Press/Getty Images)

After Marina's wedding, the Vladimir Fringe Tiara was returned to her mother, and Marina began using her own fringe tiara regularly. Throughout her life as a royal duchess, Marina reached for the Kent City of London Tiara often for gala events. In February 1957, Marina wore the tiara as she read a speech from the Queen in the National Assembly, Ghana, granting Independence to the Gold Coast.


Princess Marina and Princess Mary at the theater during the Greek state visit, July 1963 (Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

And here, she wears the tiara during the Greek state visit to Britain in July 1963. On this occasion, she wore the tiara for a special performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Aldwych Theatre in London. You'll also note that her sister-in-law, Princess Mary, is wearing her own diamond fringe tiara, which was sold after her death. (See more jewels from this state visit here!)


Princess Marina wears the Kent City of London Fringe Tiara at the 1937 coronation (Paul Marotta/Getty Images)

Marina also wore the tiara to the coronation of her brother-in-law, King George VI, in 1937.


Princess Alexandra wears the Kent City of London Fringe Tiara on her wedding day (PA Images/Alamy)

Thirty years after Marina's wedding, the City of London Fringe Tiara finally got the chance to appear on a royal bride. Marina loaned the tiara to her daughter, Princess Alexandra, for her wedding in 1963. Alexandra married Angus Ogilvy, the second son of the 12th Earl of Airlie, in a grand ceremony full of royal guests at Westminster Abbey. Her appearance at the Abbey in a family fringe tiara echoed the bridal attire of her first cousin, Queen Elizabeth II, in 1947.


Princess Michael wears the Kent City of London Fringe Tiara on her wedding day (Trinity Mirror/Mirrorpix/Alamy)

When Marina died in 1968, the tiara stayed with the Kents. The piece was inherited by her younger son, Prince Michael. Today, it's his wife, Marie Christine, who wears the sparkler. Most notably, she wore it for the reception after their wedding in Vienna in 1978. (More on their wedding here!)


Princess Michael wears the tiara with a fabric kokoshnik backing and a supplemental diamond riviere during a state visit from the Sultan of Brunei, November 1992 (Rebecca Naden/PA Images/Alamy)

Although this particular fringe tiara can't be worn as a necklace, Princess Michael has played about with it a bit anyway, sometimes even adding a velvet backing and topping it with a diamond necklace to really reinforce the kokoshnik style of the piece.


Lady Gabriella Kingston wears the Kent City of London Tiara on her wedding day, May 2019 (Victoria Jones - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

In May 2019, a new generation of the Kent family wore the City of London Fringe for the first time. Lady Gabriella Windsor (daughter of Prince and Princess Michael of Kent) chose the tiara for her wedding to Thomas Kingston at St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, pairing it with a veil and a dress by Luisa Beccaria. Predictably, a press release from Buckingham Palace on the wedding day mixed up Marina's two fringes again, stating that Marina had worn the City of London Fringe Tiara for her own wedding. Thankfully, readers of The Court Jeweller, you know better!

Note: This is an updated version of an earlier post, with new text and images.