• Chocolate Duchess

Royal Wedding Tiara Speculation: Queen Mary's Fringe Tiara

We’re breathless with anticipation over Meghan Markle’s wedding day look – and naturally one of the aspects we’re the most excited about is which tiara she’ll pull from the Royal vault! We’ve decided to take look at Royal Wedding tiaras worn by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and other members of her family to prepare ourselves for May 19th. Let’s dive right in and begin with one of the most famous British Royal Wedding tiaras - Queen Mary’s Fringe Tiara!

Queen Mary’s Fringe Tiara began life as the diamonds in a different convertible fringe tiara/necklace - the Collingwood Fringe Tiara. The Collingwood was a gift to the current Queen’s late grandmother Queen Mary from Queen Victoria upon the occasion of her marriage to George, Prince of Wales (the future King George V). Mary dutifully wore the piece as a tiara for her wedding, but she did not seem overly fond of it and wore it only once again as a necklace. Although the Royal Family already had a fringe tiara (Queen Adelaide’s Fringe Tiara), Mary wasn't terribly partial to it either (it was just too untidy), so in 1919 she commissioned the court jewelers Garrad & Co. to craft a new one, dismantling The Collingwood and re-using the diamonds. The new tiara was actually made by E. Wolff & Co. for Garrard, and the result was a delicately proportioned classic tiara with tidy, gradually gradated bars. Apparently it can be taken from the frame for use as a necklace, but since the Royal Family owns several of those, it has never been worn that way.

The Queen Mary Fringe Tiara has been used by two Royal brides – Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth I and Her Royal Highness Anne, The Princess Royal. The then-Princess Elizabeth borrowed the tiara from her mother (to whom Mary had bequeathed it in 1936) when she wed The Duke of Edinburgh in 1947. Certainly you’ve heard the now infamous story of the tiara mishap that day: According to the book ‘Garrard: The Crown Jewelers for 150 Years’, the tiara frame snapped on the wedding day and had to be hustled, under police escort no less, to their workroom for a quick fix. Her Majesty recalls it a bit differently in a video taken while touring Buckingham Palace's exhibition of the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding gown. According to her, she hadn't known it could be used as a necklace, but she found out the hard way when she broke the spring on the clasp. She thought she’d broken the actual tiara frame, but it was put together again and the spring taped up tight. Her mother, always the calm in the storm, soothed her by saying, “We have two hours and there are other tiaras.” (Garrard book). You can see the slight gap and asymmetry of the tiara in wedding photos, but the sheer joy on the bride’s face makes it pale into insignificance.

Queen Elizabeth’s daughter The Princess Anne also wore Queen Mary’s Fringe Tiara for her 1973 nuptials to Captain Mark Phillips. Unlike her mother’s elaborately embroidered gown, Princess Anne’s gown was a very simple neo-Tudor design with a high collar and flowing medieval sleeves. The tiara took pride of place atop her delicate veil, and fortunately, no tiara mishaps were had that day!

Queen Mary’s Fringe Tiara remained in The Queen Mother’s collection until her death in 2002 when it passed to The Queen. Her Majesty doesn't trot it out as regularly as some of her other favorites (well, with the Kokoshnik who would?), but she has worn it on a few occasions since, most notably in the New Zealand's Diamond Jubilee Portrait. This doesn’t seem a likely choice for Ms. Markle though, as it is still worn by The Queen. But we do hope that Princess Charlotte or possibly Harry and Meghan’s daughter (if they have one) will bring it out to sparkle on one of their own wedding days!

- Written by Heidi Retzer