Yesterday, we surveyed the twelve tiaras that Queen Elizabeth II was photographed wearing during her reign. But her collection included far more tiaras than that—including numerous examples that she owned but never wore in public.
As far as we know, Elizabeth received her first tiara as an eighteenth-birthday present from her mother in April 1944. Queen Elizabeth selected the Cartier Halo Tiara from her own collection to give to her daughter. The tiara had been acquired by King George VI for his wife in 1936, and during the war, offering hand-me-down jewelry gifts was easier than buying new pieces.
But we’ve never seen a photograph of Princess Elizabeth wearing the tiara. Instead, she loaned it to other members of the family, including her sister, Princess Margaret (who wore it at the 1953 coronation); her daughter, Princess Anne (who wore it for her tiara debut); and her granddaughter-in-law, Catherine (who wore it on her wedding day).
When Elizabeth married Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark in November 1947, she received a bejeweled wedding gift from her new mother-in-law, Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark: a delicate diamond bandeau with a meander design. Elizabeth was never photographed wearing Princess Andrew’s tiara, and two decades later, she loaned it to her daughter, Princess Anne.
Elizabeth officially gave the tiara to Anne in 1972, shortly before Anne’s engagement and royal wedding. The tiara remains in Anne’s collection today. We’ve seen her wear it often for banquets and other gala occasions over the past five decades. Anne also loaned it to her daughter, Zara Phillips, to wear as a bridal tiara in 2011.
When Queen Mary passed away in 1953, Elizabeth inherited numerous tiaras, many of which she wore regularly afterward. But there were some tiaras in that bequest that Elizabeth never wore publicly. Among them was this classic diamond bandeau, made in 1932 by Garrard. The centerpiece of the tiara is the County of Lincoln Brooch, a wedding gift offered to Mary in 1893.
The tiara remained in the vaults for decades, before finally reappearing on the Duchess of Sussex at her royal wedding in 2018. (Much has been written about Meghan’s wedding tiara decisions. I’ve covered the story once, and I’ll thank you all in advance for not revisiting the topic in your commentary on this article.)
Elizabeth received another treasure trove of inherited jewels in 2002 when her mother, the beloved Queen Mum, passed away at the remarkable age of 101. By this time, Elizabeth had settled into her own tiara collection, and she never publicly wore most of the sparklers that she received from her mother. Instead, she often loaned them out to other members of the family.
An exception is the lovely Strathmore Rose Tiara, which was the Queen Mother’s wedding present from her father in 1923. No member of the royal family has been pictured wearing the floral tiara in almost a century. There’s persistent speculation online that the tiara is not worn because it is in disrepair, but high-definition photographs taken of the jewel for Sir Hugh Roberts’s The Queen’s Diamonds a decade ago help dispel that rumor. Regardless of the reason, the tiara remains unworn in the family’s collection today.
Elizabeth also apparently inherited another 1920s jewel, the Lotus Flower Tiara, in 2002. The tiara was made shortly after the Queen Mother’s wedding in 1923, with one of her wedding gifts (a diamond and pearl necklace) dismantled to make the new jewel. She wore the tiara for years before handing it over to her daughter, Princess Margaret, who wore it often. Margaret also loaned it to her daughter-in-law, Serena, for her wedding day.
We don’t know precisely who bequeathed the tiara to Elizabeth. Both the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret passed away in 2002, and the tiara remained hidden away for more than a decade afterward. In 2013, the then-Duchess of Cambridge began wearing the tiara, confirming that it was back with the main line of the family.
The Queen Mother’s tiara collection also included a sleek, glittering Cartier bandeau made of three rows of gemstones set in the Art Deco style. The individual rows can be removed from the bandeau frame and worn as bracelets, and there are numerous colorful options for the jewel, including rows set with rubies, emeralds, and sapphires.
In the 1930s, the Queen Mother wore the piece, which was a gift from her husband, several times as a tiara. More often, though, she wore the individual rows as stacked bracelets. Elizabeth also wore several of the bracelets, though she never tried out the tiara setting of the jewel.
The Queen Mother’s tiara collection also included several antique pieces given to her by Queen Mary. Among these is the Teck Crescent Tiara, which belonged to Mary’s mother, Duchess of Teck, and was later worn by Mary’s sister-in-law, the Marchioness of Cambridge. Later, the tiara found its way to Mary’s collection, and she handed it over to her daughter-in-law, the Queen Mother, to wear.
Elizabeth inherited the unique bandeau tiara from her mother in 2002, but she was never pictured wearing the jewel. Instead, it was one of several tiaras that she handed over as long-term loans to her daughter-in-law, Camilla. So far, though, Camilla hasn’t been pictured wearing the tiara, either.
Elizabeth also loaned the Delhi Durbar Tiara to Camilla. The tiara was made for Queen Mary to wear at the Delhi Durbar in 1911, and later, she gave it to her daughter-in-law, the Queen Mother. The tiara arrived in Elizabeth’s collection when her mother passed away in 2002.
Elizabeth wore the rest of the Delhi Durbar Parure (which she inherited from Queen Mary), but she never wore the tiara. She loaned the tiara to Camilla after her royal wedding in 2005, and so far, she’s worn it precisely once in public: for the Norwegian state banquet in London in October 2005.
The third tiara that Elizabeth loaned to Camilla has turned out to be her signature diadem. The Greville Tiara was bequeathed to the Queen Mother in 1942 by a family friend, Dame Margaret Greville. She renovated the piece slightly, and it quickly became her most-worn royal jewel. When she passed away in 2002, the tiara was inherited by Elizabeth.
But Elizabeth wasn’t ready to take on her mother’s signature tiara. Instead, she soon loaned the piece to her new daughter-in-law, Camilla. The tiara quickly became just as loved by Camilla, who has made it her primary royal jewel for years. She even wore it for the first foreign state banquet of her husband’s reign in 2023.
The final tiara on our list also comes from the Greville Bequest. The Queen Mother inherited a classic diamond and emerald kokoshnik tiara from Dame Margaret Greville in 1942 as well. Interestingly, though, the Queen Mother never wore the jewel in public. Maybe it just wasn’t her style?
When the Queen Mum passed away in 2002, Elizabeth inherited the tiara—but she didn’t wear the tiara in public, either. Instead, the tiara remained in the vaults until October 2018, when Princess Eugenie made a triumphant bridal appearance in the jewel. Let’s hope we get to see it again soon!
These are just some of the tiaras from the late Queen’s collection that we never saw her wear—we don’t know how many tiaras she owned, and we don’t know the contents of the royal vaults. Are there other jewels you’re hoping are still hidden away, waiting to be worn by a new member of the family?