Published On: Sat, Apr 18th, 2020

Girls of Great Britain & Ireland tiara: Queen’s signature diadem – history, video, picture

This is a tiara rooted in tragedy. Princess Mary of Teck was engaged to be married to the future king, Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence & Avondale in 1891. But just a few weeks after the engagement was announced, he died of influenza.

His younger brother, Prince George, Duke of York, became the heir to the throne – and he was also unmarried. George had proposed to one of his cousins, who he was in love with, but she turned him down.

So it George turned his attentions to Princess Mary, and she accepted. The couple were wed on July 6 1893.

The tiara was a wedding gift to Mary. The name come fro the committee of women, led by Lady Eva Greville, who raised the money for its creation.

They purchased the piece from Garrard in 1893 – and so successful was their fundraising, that they had money left offer. At Mary’s request, the surplus was sent to a fund to support widows & children of sailors who died in the HMS Victoria disaster, which killed 350.

READ MORE: Delhi Durbar tiara: Camilla Duchess of Cornwall wears largest diadem in the Royal Family

Made by Garrard, this diadem features festoon and fleur-de-lys designs. Made of diamonds set in silver & gold, the original version was topped by 14 pearls.

It also came with a second frame, allowing it to be worn as a coronet. It could also be taken off a frame entirely and worn as a necklace.

Mary tweaked the tiara in 1914, removing the top row of pearls and replacing them with 13 diamond brilliants. The pearls found their way to the Lover’s Knot tiara instead. The base of the tiara was also removed, and Mary wore it a separate bandeau. Elizabeth put the two pieces back together in the 1960s, which is how it remains now.

Commenting on the tiara for James Constantinou, owner of Prestige Pawnbrokers of Channel 4’s Posh Pawn, said: “This tiara was a wedding present from the ‘Girls of Great Britain and Ireland ‘ to the Duchess of York later Queen Mary in 1893.

How many tiaras are there in the royal collection?

There are dozens of priceless tiaras owned by the Queen and other members of the Royal Family. Many of the British aristocracy also own tiaras, wearing them at state banquets and on wedding days.

As well as tiaras currently in existence, there are a couple which have been dismantled to make other diadems. This includes The Surrey Fringe and The Nizam of Hyderabad.

Some tiaras have formed part of iconic moments in the history of the Royal Family. The Cartier Halo for instance, was worn by Kate Middleton on her wedding day to Prince William in 2011.

Similarly, the Queen Mary Diamond Bandeau was admired around the world thanks to it being the choice of Meghan Markle for her wedding to Prince Harry in 2018.

And it is the Lover’s Knot that is most often seen today, as it is a favourite of the Duchess of Cambridge. It was closely associated with Diana, Princess of Wales during her marriage to Prince Charles, so holds special significance for Kate.

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