Not an April Fool’s joke, sadly—there are stirrings that the Princess of Wales will not wear a tiara for the upcoming coronation, breaking long-standing tradition.
I spoke this week with Monique Jessen of People Magazine, who has learned from Buckingham Palace that, while the conversation is still “ongoing,” the Princess of Wales may not be planning to wear a tiara for her father-in-law’s coronation on May 6. As the second lady in the land, and a future queen consort, that choice would be a major departure from tradition. I gave my thoughts to People in their article, but I thought the topic was worth chatting about here as well.
Tiaras have been worn for every coronation for the past several hundred years, appearing on both members of the royal family and peeresses.
Royal and aristocratic women have worn tiaras and coronets together during the ceremony. For example, here’s Princess Margaret in the royal box with her mother, the Queen Mother, and nephew, Prince Charles, at the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953. Margaret is wearing both a coronet and the Cartier Halo Tiara.
You’ll spot a treasure trove of tiaras and coronets on royal ladies in this photograph of the royal box during the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in May 1937.
Usually, ladies wear their tiaras for the duration of the event, only adding the coronet during the appropriate moment of the ceremony. Here, the Countess of Harewood (wife of Queen Elizabeth II’s cousin, the Earl of Harewood) wears her tiara as she leaves home for Westminster Abbey to attend the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. You’ll note that she’s carrying her coronet in her hand.
But it sounds like we may be seeing a very different look for royal ladies, including Princess Catherine, during the upcoming coronation. Kate’s no stranger to tiaras, having worn three different ones on various occasions since her royal wedding in 2011. (She chose the Cartier Halo Tiara, Princess Margaret’s coronation tiara, for her wedding day.)
She’s also worn the Lotus Flower Tiara on several occasions, including the Chinese state banquet in 2015.
Her most-worn tiara is undoubtedly Queen Mary’s Lover’s Knot Tiara, which she has worn for banquets and receptions on numerous occasions. Above, she wears the tiara for the Diplomatic Reception in December 2018.
The Brits have been wearing tiaras less and less over the past three decades, with a whole range of previous tiara occasions now downgraded to more casual events. But I never imagined that a coronation might be one of them! I speculated with People that King Charles might be looking to the example of European inaugurations, like the one held for King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, as a less-formal model. If so, we could still be seeing major jewels—just not tiaras. For the record: I hope all of this speculation is incorrect, and we see loads of tiaras in the Abbey on May 6th! But it’s possible that we won’t.