22 June 2019

The Kent Pearl Fringe Tiara

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Today, we've got a closer look at a tiara that was worn by two British royal brides -- with a radical transformation in between! Here's a rundown of the history of the Kent Pearl Fringe Tiara.




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Though it now exists as a small fringe tiara, this sparkler was originally a sleek diamond bandeau. Its original owner was the ultimate twentieth-century royal magpie, Queen Mary of the United Kingdom. The piece's base features the distinctive "diamond and dot" design pattern that was a signature of one of Queen Mary's favored jewelry firms, Garrard. From Mary, the bandeau passed to her daughter-in-law, Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent. Her daughter, Princess Alexandra, wore it fairly frequently in the late 1950s. Above, she wears the tiara on her way to a state banquet at Buckingham Palace in honor of President Heuss of West Germany in October 1958. The following year, Alexandra also took the bandeau along with her on her trip to Australia.


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In June 1961, the bandeau found a new owner. Katharine Worsley wore the tiara at her wedding to the Duke of Kent, Marina's elder son. From that point on, the bandeau remained in her collection.


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The new Duchess of Kent wore the tiara often for gala occasions, like this reception at the Palace of Versailles in December 1972. On this occasion, she paired the tiara with the diamond girandole earrings that also came from the collection of her mother-in-law, Princess Marina.


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But by the late 1970s, the Kents had the tiara transformed. The diamond and dot base was preserved, but the top of the tiara was reworked as a petite diamond fringe topped by small round pearls. Katharine wears the new version of the tiara in the photograph above, taken at a dinner at the Portuguese Embassy in London in November 1978.


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The tiara was later chosen as a bridal diadem by the Duke and Duchess's daughter, Lady Helen Windsor. She wore it to marry Timothy Taylor at St. George's Chapel in Windsor in the summer of 1992. Since then, the tiara has largely been gathering dust -- the Duchess has retired from public life, so we don't see her wearing tiaras at events like state banquets these days. Here's hoping this one will eventually emerge again on a member of the Kent family!