Forty years ago today, the eyes of the world were on Lady Diana Spencer as she walked up the aisle of St. Paul’s Cathedral to marry the Prince of Wales. Today, we’re marking the anniversary by looking back at the wedding jewels worn by Diana, as well as her mother, her sisters, and her nieces.
Let’s begin in the spring of 1954. On June 1, the Hon. Frances Roche, daughter of Lord and Lady Fermoy, married John Spencer, Viscount Althorp (an equerry to the Queen) at Westminster Abbey. Above, 18-year-old Frances is pictured with her father as they leave their home in Wilton Crescent to travel to the ceremony. Frances wore the all-diamond Fermoy Tiara, plus an elegant triple strand of pearls, with her wedding gown. Johnny and Frances had five children, four of whom survived to adulthood, before their divorce in 1969.
The second-eldest of Frances and Johnny’s children, Lady Jane Spencer, married Robert Fellowes on April 20, 1978, also at Westminster Abbey. He was then assistant private secretary to the Queen. Lady Jane wore one of the family’s most important jewels, the Spencer Tiara, on her wedding day. Robert and Lady Jane are still married, with three children and four grandchildren.
Lady Sarah Spencer, the eldest of the four, also wore the glittering Spencer Tiara on her wedding day. She married Neil McCorquodale on May 17, 1980, in the village of Great Brington in Northamptonshire, near the family’s Althorp estate. You’ll also spot a Windsor in this wedding group: one of the bridesmaids was Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones, daughter of Princess Margaret. Sarah and Neil are still married today, with three children and five grandchildren.
A year later, the spotlight shone brilliantly on the youngest of the three Spencer daughters. Lady Diana wore the family’s tiara with a voluminous gown to marry the Prince of Wales at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London on July 29, 1981. (You can watch a high-quality digital film of the wedding day here.) Diana continued to wear the tiara frequently at gala events throughout her marriage, which ended in 1996. Charles and Diana had two sons, the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex, and have five grandchildren.
On September 16, 1989, Viscount Althorp, the fourth of the Spencer children, married Victoria Lockwood in Great Brington near the family estate. Lockwood wore an unusual wedding gown of antique gold lace and sable, and her ensemble was crowned by the Spencer Tiara. (You’ll spot Prince Harry with his cousin, Alexander Fellowes, wearing eighteenth-century-inspired page boy outfits in this photo.) Charles and Victoria became Earl and Countess Spencer in 1992. They had four children together before divorcing in 1997. Charles has subsequently married twice more and had three more children. He has been married to Karen Villeneuve Gordon since 2011.
Now, a third generation of Spencer family brides are marrying, wearing a variety of jewels. Neither Laura Fellowes nor Emily McCorquodale wore the Spencer Tiara for their weddings. (Above, Emily is wearing a diamond floral tiara that is thought to be a McCorquodale family heirloom.) But Celia McCorquodale did wear the Spencer Tiara for her wedding in June 2018; you can see an image of her wearing it here. Celia is the person who has worn the tiara in public most recently.
This weekend, another Spencer family bride was married. Lady Kitty Spencer, the eldest daughter of Earl Spencer and his first wife, Victoria, married Michael Lewis in Rome on July 24. She wore a series of intricate gowns by Dolce & Gabbana during the wedding celebrations, including this Victorian-inspired lace gown for the ceremony, but did not wear a tiara for any of the events. Lady Kitty has been associated with the fashion brand for years, often modeling in Dolce & Gabbana fashion shows. She is also a brand ambassador for Bulgari.