Queen Elizabeth wearing the tiara before the alterationShe had Cartier make it bigger, bless her heart, by adding a little variation to the top line and finishing it off with a marquis-shaped diamond in the center. A change for the better, if you ask me: it needed some pizazz to take it from "fortress of diamonds" to "fortress of diamonds with a fancy fence on top". The latter is much more interesting, clearly.
The alteration: before and afterThe Boucheron was destined to become one of her favorites. Indeed, in the Queen Mother's later years, it was one of only two from her collection that she wore publicly.
Queen Elizabeth wearing the tiara after the alterationWhen the Queen Mother died, her jewels passed to Queen Elizabeth as a sovereign to sovereign inheritance (a handy way to avoid taxes, you see). The Queen has now doled this tiara out to the Duchess of Cornwall, which is a nice nod to the grandmother Prince Charles loved so much. She first wore it for her third tiara appearance, in 2006, and it's been her go-to tiara ever since.
The Duchess of CornwallI wasn't a big fan of this tiara until Camilla started wearing it. It does have a bit of a basket feel to it, and it's one of those pieces that's surprisingly modern for its time. The Queen Mother had a tendency to wear it alongside more traditional pieces, such as Queen Alexandra's pearl and diamond wedding necklace (center photo, Queen Mother collage above). Camilla, on the other hand, has a fairly modern necklace stash that pairs particularly well with this tiara.
Speaking of diamond fortresses...Camilla with the Boucheron Honeycomb Tiara and the Greville 5-strand diamond necklace, from the same inheritance
Every time Camilla wears this, someone tuts because this baby is bigger than all of the tiaras the Queen favors, and gasp - how dare she out bling the boss lady! And I tut right back, because the Queen is in charge of the jewels. She lends them out; if it bothered her, Camilla wouldn't be in such a major piece. And as far as I'm concerned, that's the end of the story. Besides, Cam's the only one in the family with hair massive enough to structurally support this thing.
So, what's your verdict: diamond wastebasket, or not?
Update: This entry was renamed to Greville Tiara in 2013.
Photos: operagloves.com/queensimages.com/Corbis/Norman Parkinson/Fiona Cowan/National Portrait Gallery/Boucheron/Geoffrey Munn/Life/smh.au/AP/Daily Mail