05 October 2019

The Harewood Fringe Tiara

Princess Mary wears her diamond fringe tiara, ca. 1922

With a recent appearance (as a replica) in the new Downton Abbey film, there's been a lot of chatter about the diamond fringe tiara that belonged to Princess Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood. Today, we've got a look at this tiara's history.




The fringe tiara is displayed alongside the rest of Mary's wedding gifts, 1922 (Illustrated London News)

The classic diamond fringe tiara, an always-popular tiara design, was one of Mary's wedding gifts, offered to her when she wed Viscount Lascelles in 1922. The tiara, which was made around 1890, was presented to her by Lord and Lady Inchcape. They could definitely afford to give a diadem to a princess: Lord Inchcape, who was born James Mackay, was a wealthy Scottish businessman who made a fortune in the shipping industry. He also served as a colonial diplomat and administrator, and he was ennobled as Baron Inchcape in 1911, Viscount Inchcape in 1924, and the 1st Earl of Inchcape in 1929.


Princess Mary wears the fringe tiara, ca. 1922

The new Viscountess Lascelles posed for portraits in her new fringe tiara shortly after her wedding. In the images, she wears the tiara low across her forehead, in 1920s fashion. The versatile tiara could also be taken off its frame and worn as a necklace.


Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Mary kept and wore the fringe tiara throughout her left. More than four decades after she received it, she wore the fringe during the Greek state visit of 1963. She selected the tiara for a special performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Aldwych Theatre in London. (In fact, you'll note that she repeated almost all of her jewels from the 1922 portrait on this occasion.)


Princess Mary wears the fringe tiara, ca. 1922

Mary passed away in March 1965, and the tiara was sold at Christie's by her sons in 1966. At some point, the tiara found new aristocratic owners: the Grosvenors. The late 6th Duke of Westminster acquired the tiara at some point, and it seems that it remains a part of the family collection today.