04 August 2016

Tiara Thursday: The Mountbatten Tiara

Earlier this summer, we looked at one tiara with the Mountbatten name attached to it. This larger model, though, is usually the one that takes the simple title of the Mountbatten Tiara:

The Mountbatten Tiara
Louis and Edwina Mountbatten were stand out figures even in a family full of well known names. Louis (1900-1979) was a great-grandson of Queen Victoria, uncle to the Duke of Edinburgh, and a mentor to the Prince of Wales. He was also a senior naval officer and a statesman who played a major role in the independence of India, and was named Viscount and later Earl Mountbatten of Burma. The IRA planted a bomb on a fishing boat at the Mountbatten family summer home in Ireland in 1979, assassinating Lord Mountbatten and killing and wounding others in the family.

The Mountbattens in their splendor in India
Heiress Edwina Ashley (1901-1960) married Mountbatten in 1922. She dug right in when it came to helping with the war effort and with efforts while the family was in India, developing a knack for assessing situations in which aid was needed and helping to get the right aid distributed. The couple's unconventional marriage adds another layer of interest to these well known figures; Mountbatten himself allowed that "Edwina and I spent all our married lives getting into other people's beds." He remained devoted to her until the end, when she was buried at sea after her death in 1960. ("Dear Edwina," the Queen Mother said, "she always liked to make a splash.")

Dressed for the 1953 coronation
The Mountbatten Tiara is a large and distinctive diadem, with a modern feel for its age. It is most likely a Chaumet creation dating from around 1910, with diamonds set in platinum. Diamond scroll motifs give this solid tiara a pierced feel, and the design rises to a central point with a top line studded by diamond trefoil motifs. Edwina wore it to the coronations of both George VI and Elizabeth II, as well as for official events conducted by her husband while serving as the last Viceroy and first Governor-General of India and key events back home (here she is in 1959).

Lady Pamela Hicks wears the Mountbatten Tiara
The tiara passed to the couple's younger daughter, Lady Pamela Hicks. Lady Pamela sold the tiara at Sotheby's in 2002, where it drew a price of £149,650 after an estimate of £100,000-150,000 and was reportedly purchased by a private collector. She said of the sale, "We're not pop stars, so we need the money. I am sad to have to sell it as it belonged to my mother and it's very precious to me. It has, however, come to the point where I have to sell something." I'm sad she had to sell it too, but I have to say I am charmed by her forthright style in addressing the sale. That's just how it goes sometimes. (Lady Pamela has written a couple of books on her life, for those who want to read more: Daughter of Empire and India Remembered.)

Is this a favorite Mountbatten diadem for you?
(At least one other was worn by Edwina, a diamond and pearl tiara, in addition to the Mountbatten Tutti Frutti Bandeau and those from other branches of the family.)