20 July 2017

Tiara Thursday: The Wellington Tiara

From the time of its creation through today, the title of the Duke of Wellington has been one of the most recognizable in the peerage of the United Kingdom. It was just one of several European titles and other decorations gathered by the 1st Duke, Arthur Wellesley (1769-1852), in the course of an active political career and a celebrated military career that included the defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

The Wellington Tiara
The Duchesses of Wellington have, for several generations now, worn a tiara grand enough to suit this prominent family title. The tiara features intricate, large diamond scroll motifs dotted with large single diamonds and interspersed with smaller knotted diamond scroll motifs, again with several large single diamonds included.

Elizabeth, Duchess of Wellington
The diadem dates back at least to Elizabeth Wellesley (née Hay, 1820-1904), the wife of the 2nd Duke. She was depicted wearing the tiara in 1859. The couple both held prominent court positions in Queen Victoria's household, with the 2nd Duke serving as Master of the Horse and the Duchess serving as Queen Victoria's Mistress of the Robes for several years.

Kathleen, Duchess of Wellington
Kathleen Wellesley (née Williams, 1848-1927), the wife of the 4th Duke, wore the tiara in a couple of portraits. Above, she's also shown wearing a magnificent diamond necklace that is still with the family. And the tiara, of course, is also still with the family. The current Duchess of Wellington (born Princess Antonia of Prussia) first wore the Wellington Tiara for her 1977 wedding to the Marquess of Douro, as the current Duke was titled at the time. He succeeded to the Wellington title in 2014.

Antonia, Duchess of Wellington (left) wears the tiara at the Duke of Wellington's Waterloo Banquet in 2015
The Wellington name was brought back to the forefront in 2015, for the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. Hosting a splendid formal Waterloo Banquet at Apsley House, the Duchess wore the Wellington Tiara and the same diamond necklace the 4th Duchess paired with the diadem.

The Duchess greets the Duchess of Cornwall
You can see above how the tiara forms a complete circlet around the head - well, you can see it provided that you're not totally blinded by the sparkle on the Duchess of Cornwall at that banquet. (We covered that appearance over at the Jewel Vault; Camilla wore the Greville Tiara and all five strands of the Greville Festoon Necklace.)

The Duke and Duchess were attendees at the recent Spanish state banquet at Buckingham Palace, where the tiara may or may not have had another appearance; regrettably, they were not spotted in the state banquet coverage. (The Duke of Wellington is also the Duke of Ciudad Rodrigo, Grandee of Spain 1st Class, another title picked up by the 1st Duke, and they have a Spanish estate. The Duke and Duchess' daughter, Lady Charlotte, married Alejandro Santo Domingo in Spain last year with King Juan Carlos and the Duchess of Cornwall in attendance.) There appears to be least one other tiara option at the Duchess' disposal:
Lady Charlotte in a different tiara
Lady Charlotte and her husband were guests at last year's Colombian state banquet, where she wore a different family tiara.

The Wellington Tiara seems to be the main headliner, though. For a grand tiara with so many big stones, it manages to keep a certain lightness to the design. I think it's a success on every level.

How do you rate this big gun tiara?