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Royal Wedding Tiara Speculation: The York Tiara and The Wessex Tiara


Left: The Duchess of York, 1986 Right: The Countess of Wessex, 1999

Today we’re focusing on two British Royal Wedding Tiaras - the newer York and Wessex (Anthemion) Tiaras! The York Tiara was worn by Miss Sarah Ferguson when she became Her Royal Highness Duchess of York in 1986 and The Wessex by Miss Sophie Rhys-Jones when she became Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex in 1999.


The tiara that would become known as The York Tiara was purpose-bought from Garrard for Sarah Ferguson by her new in-laws Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh. It is all diamonds set in platinum and comprised of delicate leafy scrolls and florets. The sparkler debuted at the wedding of Sarah to His Royal Highness Prince Andrew, The Duke of York on July 23, 1986 at Westminster Abbey. Interestingly enough, the tiara wasn't actually revealed until the new Duchess of York departed the Abbey! She had hidden it with a floral crown containing Prince Andrew's favorite gardenias when she entered the Abbey, and removed the flowers as the couple momentarily disappeared from sight to sign their wedding registry.


The York Tiara became The Duchess of York’s sole diadem, and she wore it for multiple events after her wedding. Because it is Sarah Ferguson’s personal property, she kept it after she and Prince Andrew were divorced in 1996, and there is no reason Ms. Markle would wear this for her wedding. However, there is a very good chance we’ll see it this autumn for The Duke and Duchess of York's daughter Princess Eugenie’s nuptials.


The Wessex (Anthemion) Tiara is both new and old. It’s new in the sense that it was made for Miss Sophie Rhys-Jones upon the occasion of her 1999 wedding to His Royal Highness Prince Edward, The Earl of Wessex. It’s old because the elements for its design came from the private jewelry collection of Her Majesty The Queen. The provenance of the tiara has never been confirmed, but the prevailing (and likely) theory is that it was crafted from four Anthemion (palmette) elements that were alternate parts of Queen Victoria’s Regal Circlet. The frame of the Circlet is now at the Museum of London, so re-using the anthemion elements for a new piece was a lovely way of gifting Sophie a new tiara of her own while still retaining the history and connection to tradition within the Royal Family.


The Countess has worn the tiara on numerous occasions since her wedding, most recently at the princely wedding in Monaco in 2011. However, since she has expanded her tiara collection, it has been seen less. Again, since this tiara is the personal property of The Countess, we will definitely not be seeing Ms. Markle wearing it on her wedding day.


- Written by Heidi Retzer


Close-up of The York Tiara

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