|Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko attend the Diamond Jubilee festivities in Thailand, 2006 (Pool/Getty Images)
On Tuesday, Empress Michiko of Japan will become her nation’s Empress Emerita when her husband, Emperor Akihito, abdicates. As their thirty-year reign draws to a close, today we have a glittering overview of the tiaras she has worn since becoming a member of Japan’s imperial family.
|Crown Prince Akihito and Crown Princess Michiko on their wedding day, 1959 (AFP/Getty Images)
The first tiara that Michiko wore was the elaborate diamond scroll tiara that she donned for the formal audience with her parents-in-law on her wedding day. Newspaper reports from the day claimed that the tiara was a remodeled version of a tiara that had belonged to her husband’s grandmother, Empress Sadako, noting that it contains “1000 diamonds set in platinum.” (Read more about their imperial wedding here!)
|Crown Princess Michiko, 1971 (AFP/Getty Images)
Michiko wore the tiara and its matching necklace for several years, eventually handing it off to her daughter-in-law, Crown Princess Masako, in 1993. (More on the tiara here!)
|Crown Princess Michiko and Mamie Eisenhower at the White House, 1960 (Everett Collection Historical/Alamy)
This modern diamond and pearl tiara is one of the most stunning diadems in the imperial vaults. Michiko began wearing the tiara and its coordinating jewels early in her marriage, including a famous outing for dinner at the Eisenhower White House in September 1960. Today, the tiara is worn by Crown Princess Masako. (See a close-up here!)
|Empress Michiko before her husband’s enthronement, 1990 (AFP/Getty Images)
One of the most important Western-style jewels in the imperial vaults, this grand diamond tiara was made in the late nineteenth-century, likely by a European jeweler. It can be worn with various toppers, including a set of diamond stars. The piece is reserved for the use of the empress, so Michiko began wearing it after her husband’s accession in 1989.
|Empress Michiko on Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako’s wedding day, 1993 (KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images)
Michiko wore the tiara for important events, including state banquets, official portraits, and the wedding of Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako in 1993. (Read a detailed timeline of the tiara’s history here!)
|Empress Michiko attends a banquet at the Guildhall in London 1998 (PAUL VICENTE/AFP/Getty Images)
This all-diamond tiara features one of the most important symbols of the Japanese imperial family: the chrysanthemum flower. The piece was a favorite of Michiko’s mother-in-law, Empress Nagako, who wore it on Akihito and Michiko’s wedding day in 1959. (More on that here!)
|Empress Michiko attends a banquet honoring the King of Morocco in Tokyo, 2005 (MAP/AFP/Getty Images)
Michiko has often chosen this piece for banquets, including the Guildhall banquet during an important state visit to the United Kingdom in 1998. She also wore the tiara on the wedding day of her younger son, Prince Akishino, in 1990.
|Empress Michiko attends a dinner at Uppsala Castle in Sweden, 2007 (SVEN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images)
In later years, Michiko often reached for this lovely tiara, which features stylized honeysuckles in its design. It originally belonged to her husband’s aunt, Princess Chichibu, who wore it on her wedding day. (See a photo here!)
|Empress Michiko attends a banquet honoring the King and Queen of Spain in Tokyo, 2008 (KOJI SASAHARA/AFP/Getty Images)
The diadem was one of the last tiaras that Michiko wore regularly. Health problems led her to stop wearing tiaras altogether several years ago, generally appearing at gala functions in elaborate necklaces and brooches instead.