mercoledì 9 dicembre 2015

Queen Mary's Lover's Knot Tiara

As you've probably all heard by now, last night, on 8 December 2015, the Duchess of Cambridge attended the annual Diplomatic Reception at Buckingham Palace in a new tiara for her: Queen Mary's Lover's Knot tiara, made iconic by her mother-in-law Diana, Princess of Wales.
I think I can safely say this was a lovely, unexpected surprise for all of us royal watchers and certainly one that brought back a lot of memories!
This is only the third tiara for the Duchess, after the Cartier Halo tiara she wore on her wedding day and the Papyrus tiara (the only one she has worn twice so for: at the 2013 Diplomatic Reception and in October this year at the State banquet in honour of Chinese President Xi Jinping):
Last night's tiara was a choice laden with historical and family significance, given the close association the Lover's Knot tiara has with the late Diana, Princess of Wales.
Queen Mary commissioned it in 1913, as she wanted something in a similar design to an early nineteenth-century head ornament that belonged to her grandmother, Augusta, Duchess of Cambridge, and had subsequently been inherited by the Duchess's elder daughter (Queen Mary's aunt and godmother), Augusta, Grand-Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.
Queen Mary's grandmother, Augusta, Duchess of Cambridge, wearing the original Lover's Knot tiara which she had received as a wedding gift in 1818.
The Duchess's daughter, Augusta, Grand-Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, who inherited the tiara.
The original Lover's Knot tiara, as seen above, was sold at Christie's, Geneva, on 14 May 1981.
Queen Mary was fond of the design and commissioned Garrard & Co. to make a similar piece for her. Her tiara was made using diamonds and 12 pearls drops taken from a necklace/tiara given to her on her marriage by '650 Ladies of England'.
Queen Mary, photographed in 1896 when Duchess of York, wearing (below two others) the Ladies of England necklace, broken up in 1913 to make the Lover's Knot tiara, and the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara in the original setting with pearls.
These 12 pearls were supplemented by 13 others originally on the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara (as shown above), 11 taken from various pieces of her mother's jewellery, and a pearl each from the brooches given on her marriage by the town of Richmond and the Women of Hampshire, bringing the total of pearls supplied by the Queen to 38.
The Richmond brooch: the pearl was used on the Lover's Knot tiara and presumably replaced when the tiara was altered in 1932.

 The Women of Hampshire brooch: again, the pearl was used on the Lover's Knot tiara and presumably replaced when the tiara was altered in 1932.

Nineteen of the pearls were originally mounted upright on the cresting, while the remaining 19 as pendants on the band. The tiara was altered in 1932, to be worn with and without upright pearls. These have now been permanently removed.

Queen Mary wearing the tiara in its original setting with upright pearls.
The tiara was inherited by Queen Elizabeth on her grandmother's death in 1953. The Queen wore it as a young woman, but stopped in later years.

Attending a film premiere with the Duke of Edinburgh in 1958.
She presented it to Diana, Princess of Wales, upon her wedding to Prince Charles in 1981. Princess Diana wore it often, alternating it with the more lightweight Spencer Family tiara, and it became closely associated with her. She was also famously photographed by Mario Testino wearing it.

Thanks to its very close, almost iconic, association to the late Princess of Wales, there were many - myself included - who doubted we'd see the Lover's Knot again for many years, if ever. So it was the loveliest of surprises to see it once again out of the Palace vaults last night!

I'm sure I'm not the only one who's looking forward to seeing this beauty in use for many more years to come, as the Duchess of Cambridge undertakes more white-tie engagements!


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