A royal tiara lay in wait in the royal vaults for almost a century before glittering back to life this year. My top royal jewelry moment of 2023 is the surprising return of the Strathmore Rose Tiara!
On November 21, the British royals hosted a state banquet for the President of South Korea at Buckingham Palace. The Princess of Wales arrived wearing a Jenny Packham gown and major diamonds, including an incredible tiara surprise.
Kate brought the Strathmore Rose Tiara out of the vaults for the banquet. The tiara is a nineteenth-century floral bandeau, given in 1923 by the Earl of Strathmore to his daughter, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, as a wedding present.
Here’s an illustration of the tiara from the time of the royal wedding. It was already an antique in 1923, but its diamond rose design is timeless.
The tiara has two frames: one for traditional wear atop the head, used by Kate for the South Korean state banquet, and one that allows the tiara to be worn low across the forehead, in trendy 1920s style. The Queen Mother wore the jewel both ways, but she was photographed more often wearing the tiara in its lower bandeau setting. To the best of my knowledge, she was photographed wearing the tiara for the last time in the 1930s.
We all knew that the tiara was still in the royal vaults, because it was loaned to an exhibition in 2001 and photographed for The Queen’s Diamonds in 2012. But it was still an incredible, wonderful shock to see Kate emerge in the tiara for the banquet. Wearing the tiara in the centenary year of the Queen Mother’s marriage was surely a deliberate, sentimental moment of recognition—and yet another sign that Kate is trying to follow in the footsteps forged by the Queen Mum in her decades as a central, supportive member of the royal family.
I’ll be back here as the New Year dawns with a special moment of celebration! See you all then…