At Tuesday evening’s state banquet at Buckingham Palace, the Duchess of Gloucester gleamed in antique diamond and emerald jewels. Today, let’s talk a little bit about the history behind some of these incredible antique pieces, including that striking bandeau-style tiara.
The Duchess arrived wearing an elegant blue evening gown accessorized with diamonds and emeralds. Her jewelry included a bandeau-style tiara made of platinum and set with diamonds and emeralds, a diamond and emerald festoon necklace, square emerald and diamond cluster earrings, and a large diamond and emerald brooch. A pair of diamond and emerald bracelets also peeked out from the top of her gloves.
The tiara is an Art Deco piece that dates to the middle of the 1930s. In 1935, Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, offered the tiara as a wedding gift to his new bride, Lady Alice Montagu Douglas Scott. Henry was the third son of King George V and Queen Mary, and his new wife was a daughter of the 7th Duke of Buccleuch, one of the largest landowners in Scotland.
Prince Henry offered his bride a treasure trove of royal jewels, including two different tiaras. One was a diamond tiara with a laurel leaf design, and the other was a sleek diamond and platinum bandeau. The second tiara, pictured above, is distinctly Art Deco in design. Even better, it was convertible. The diamond centerpiece of the bandeau could be removed and replaced by a diamond and emerald jewel. (That diamond and emerald piece, which could be worn separately as a brooch, is pictured sitting below the bandeau in the photograph above.) Moreover, the two diamond sections on either side of the centerpiece could be removed and worn as clip brooches. Henry’s gift also included emerald and diamond stud earrings to coordinate with the tiara.
To supplement the set even further, Henry’s siblings—the Prince of Wales, the Duke and Duchess of York, the Duke and Duchess of Kent, and Princess Mary and Lord Harewood—gave Lady Alice a second set of diamond and emerald clips, which could be worn separately or swapped in to the bandeau to give it a more complete emerald look. Other diamonds on the bandeau could also be swapped for emeralds as well.
There were even more emeralds in Alice’s wedding gift haul, too. Her new parents-in-law, King George V and Queen Mary, offered her a suite of jewels set with emeralds, pearls, and diamonds. The set included two necklaces with pendants, a large brooch with a trio of pendants, and a pair of bracelets.
The new Duchess of Gloucester had numerous opportunities to wear her grand jewels while representing the royal family at gala events. Above, she wears the all-diamond version of her bandeau tiara for a ball at the Dorchester in London in April 1937, just a few weeks before the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.
And here, she wears the all-diamond setting of the tiara for Queen Charlotte’s Birthday Ball at Grosvenor House in London in May 1953, just a few weeks before the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
Alice was also pictured on occasion wearing the emerald version of the bandeau tiara, as well as the accompanying earrings. Here, she wears both jewels at Covent Garden during the Portuguese state visit in 1955. She’s also added two more emerald jewels: a diamond and emerald festoon necklace and a large diamond and emerald brooch. Both jewels are said to have arrived in her jewelry box in the 1950s, and both have been linked to Queen Mary.
After she was widowed, and her younger son inherited the Gloucester title, Princess Alice handed over many of her jewels to her daughter-in-law, Birgitte. She has worn the diamonds and emeralds in the decades since, using the pieces in various settings. She’s worn the complete bandeau tiara in its emerald setting on multiple occasions, but more often, Birgitte has worn the separate emerald pieces as brooches and pins.
Above, as she attends the 50th birthday party for Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip in Windsor in 1997, Birgitte wears the emerald centerpiece and clip brooches from the tiara pinned to her green dress. She’s also wearing Alice’s emerald earrings and bracelets, plus the diamond and emerald festoon necklace.
Birgitte has also often used the diamond clip elements from the bandeau tiara as separate brooches. We recently saw her wear them on Garter Day in Windsor in June 2023.
Notably, the Duke and Duchess’s daughter, Lady Rose Windsor, wore the diamond clips on her wedding dress when she married George Gilman in 2008.
Last November, Birgitte wore numerous emerald pieces from her mother-in-law’s collection for the Guildhall banquet during the South African state visit. She wore the emerald clip brooches near her neckline and used the bandeau’s emerald centerpiece to secure her order sash. She’s also wearing the necklaces from the pearl and emerald suite, as well as earrings made from some of the same suite’s pendant drops. And to top it all off, she wore the emerald setting of Queen Mary’s Honeysuckle Tiara, which Mary gave to Alice in the years after her royal wedding.
For the recent state banquet at Buckingham Palace, Birgitte made a rare (but not debut) appearance in the emerald setting of the diamond bandeau, pairing it with its matching earrings. She also added Alice’s festoon necklace and her large diamond and emerald brooch to her ensemble.
A scheduling note: I’ll be back here during the day on Tuesday with a look at the jewels worn by Queen Maxima in Paris. See you then!