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Royal Wedding Tiara Speculation: Princess Margaret's Poltimore Tiara

Updated: Apr 26, 2018

Next in our wedding tiara series comes what was easily the grandest wedding tiara in the British Royal Family - Her Royal Highness The Princess Margaret's Poltimore Tiara.

The Poltimore was made by Garrard around 1870 for Florence Bompfylde, Lady Poltimore, thus its eponymous moniker. Lady Poltimore wore it for King George V’s coronation in 1911, but her grandson offered it for sale at auction in 1959 where Princess Margaret fell in love with it and snagged it for a paltry £5,500. No one knows if she acquired it personally or if it was bought for her, but either way, she got what she wanted.

The tiara itself - made of cushion and old-cut diamonds mounted in silver and gold - is a veritable wealth of convertibility, as were most late nineteenth century pieces. It can be transformed into a necklace and up to eleven brooches. In fact, before her engagement was announced Princess Margaret wore both the necklace and brooches. The tiara also has two different settings and can be worn in its full and glorious iteration or in a slightly smaller version.

Princess Margaret was quite a tiny woman, and though the size of the tiara would overwhelm most, her enormous vitality made her wearing it a perfect match of fate. She debuted the dramatic piece at her May 6, 1960 wedding, letting its glory take center stage against her minimalist Norman Hartnell gown and simple silk tulle veil by Claude St. Cyr of Paris. Unlike most Royal brides she had no crystal trim or embroidery on her gown. Her only other wedding day jewelry was her grandmother Queen Mary’s Diamond Rivière Necklace.

Princess Margaret did wear other tiaras, including the Halo and Lotus Flower, but the Poltimore became synonymous with her. She wore it on several occasions throughout the rest of her life, with perhaps the most famous time being (besides her wedding) when her husband Lord Snowdon snapped her wearing it whilst in the bath.

This is one Royal tiara we can confidently say is NOT on Meghan Markle's short list for May 19. Sadly, after Princess Margaret’s 2002 death her son then-Viscount Linley (he's been Earl of Snowdon since January 2017) made the decision to sell it in order to cover the exorbitant death duties. It was accordingly offered for auction at Christie’s in 2006 and was sold to an anonymous buyer for a whopping $1.7 million. Even if Princess Margaret's son hadn't sold The Poltimore, the tiara would now be worn by his wife the Countess of Snowdon and would not be a part of the Royal collection of jewels that Meghan would be offered to choose from. We will probably never know who wears this most magnificent of Royal bridal tiaras now.

- Written by Heidi Retzer