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The tales behind the Royal tiaras
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13.12.2018

The tales behind the Royal tiaras

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QUEEN ELIZABETH

Brazilian Aquamarine Tiara

Most of the Queen’s tiaras are legacies from monarchs past but her choice for the banquet is her own design.
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Its origins lie in a gift of a pair of earrings and a necklace from the President of Brazil in her coronation year 1953.

A bracelet and brooch followed five years later. 

Her Majesty was so taken by the vivid aquamarine and diamond pieces that she decided to have a matching tiara made.
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The result, created by royal jewellers Garrard & Co in 1957, has graced the regal head many times.

In 1969 the Queen wore the tiara when she watched Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn dance at Covent Garden.

The Queen tactfully chose the piece in 2006 for a state visit by Brazil’s leader and more recently it was seen on a tour to Australia in 2011. 
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The original had detachable sections, which could double as brooches, and over time the Queen has tinkered with the tiara’s look.

The central aquamarine stone was swapped for a much larger one, taken from the pendant of the necklace.

Then in the early 1970s extra diamond and aquamarine sections were added as more gifts of the precious stones poured in from Brazil, which is the leading producer.
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Aquamarine has a shade somewhere between green and blue and comes from the emerald family of gems.

Confusingly aquamarine happens to be the birthstone for March, although neither the Queen’s actual birthday nor her official anniversary fall in that month.

Think the main stone in the Queen’s tiara is a monster? The largest aquamarine ever unearthed weighed a whopping 240lbs. 
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QUEEN LETIZIA

Fleur De Lys Tiara

For her visit to Buckingham Palace the Queen of Spain selected the most impressive tiara in her family’s jewel collection.
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Nicknamed La Buena, or The Good One, the piece came to Letizia after the abdication of her father-in-law King Juan Carlos.

Up to then the tiara was owned by Letizia’s mother-in-law Sofi a but custom has it that only the reigning queen can be the wearer.

The first was Queen Ena, who received the tiara as a gift from her husband King Alonso XIII in 1906.
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A great-granddaughter of our own Queen Victoria, she wore the diamond-encrusted head piece with its dominant fleur de lys motif on her wedding day.

Despite civil war and revolution in Spain in the 20th century the tiara stayed in the royal family.
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Maria Mercedes, the Countess of Barcelona and daughter-in-law of Ena, never became Queen of Spain but was nonetheless allowed to wear it, appearing in La Buena at the coronation of our Queen in 1953.

The monarchy was restored in Spain in 1975 when Queen Sofi a began officially wearing the tiara. It remained in her possession for almost 40 years until the abdication of Juan Carlos in 2014 saw his son Felipe take the throne.

Like the other unique tiaras on glittering display this week it’s priceless.
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DUCHESS OF CAMBRIDGE

The Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara

The Duchess’s tiara had been a gift from the Queen to Princess Diana for her wedding day but didn’t see the light of day until months later.
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It’s a stunning heirloom that’s been passed down through the generations having been commissioned originally by Queen Mary, wife of George V and our Queen’s grandmother, in 1914.

Raiding her own jewellery box for pearls and diamonds, Mary also turned to Garrard & Co for the job of crafting the piece.

She is said to have used a tiara worn by her own grandmother Princess Augusta of Hesse as inspiration.
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Princess Augusta also held the title Duchess of Cambridge, hence the name of the piece.

Swinging pearls hang from 19 upturned diamond arches, capped with a design known as lover’s knots.

The frame is silver and gold. Eagle-eyed observers later noted a modification: at some stage the original top layer of pearls was removed by Mary, perhaps to reduce the weight.
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When Mary died in 1953 she willed the tiara to the current Queen who wore the piece frequently, including during a Commonwealth tour in 1954 and at a 1958 fi lm premiere, before presenting it to a thrilled Diana.

Despite Mary’s adjustment the tiara is so heavy that it’s said to have given Diana headaches.

That is why she favoured a lighter model, from her family’s collection of jewels, for her marriage to Charles in 1981. 
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Diana wore the tiara for the fi rst time in public at the state opening of Parliament a few months later and it was given another outing on an official visit to the US with her husband.

In 1989 Diana paired the tiara with even more pearls – 20,000 of them to be precise – on a Catherine Walker outfit that was dubbed “the Elvis dress” on account of its upturned collar.

After the Princess’s death in 1997 the tiara was kept in a safe at Buckingham Palace before being passed to Kate following her marriage to Prince William.
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This week’s banquet was the third time the Duchess has been spotted wearing the Cambridge Lover’s Knot tiara.
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