22 February 2018

Tiara Thursday: The Strathmore Rose Tiara, Revisited

A regular topic of conversation as the royal wedding machine rolls along deserves a bit of a revisit:

 The Strathmore Rose Tiara
The Strathmore Rose Tiara, or Queen Elizabeth’s Strathmore Tiara, was a gift to Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon from her father, the Earl of Strathmore, for her 1923 wedding to the Duke of York, the future King George VI. The tiara features a garland of wild roses in diamonds mounted in silver and gold and was purchased for the future Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother at a London jeweler; it dates from the late nineteenth century. The pavé-set diamond roses could be used as individual brooches, and – at least originally – could be swapped out for five single-collet sapphires, according to The Queen’s Diamonds.

Queen Elizabeth, as Duchess of York
The tiara also came with two different frames, one to wear the tiara across the forehead in the bandeau style so popular at the time, and another to wear the tiara on top of the head in the more traditional style. Elizabeth wore the tiara across her forehead in its best-known portrait sitting, but she did also wear it on top of her head.

Worn on across the forehead or atop the head
Examples of the Strathmore Rose Tiara in use are sparse. Elizabeth seems to have used it primarily (perhaps only) in her years as Duchess of York, moving along to other pieces in the years after she became Queen Elizabeth. It’s possible that the Strathmore Rose hasn’t been seen in use since the 1920s or early 1930s. Other tiaras in her collection were similarly discarded in favor of others after she became queen, like the Lotus Flower Tiara; most of those other tiaras, however, eventually found new wearers and continued to be in use. The Strathmore Rose, on the other hand, is still waiting. Queen Elizabeth kept the tiara until her death in 2002; it then passed to her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II, in whose collection it now resides.

When a tiara disappears into the vault for so long, rumors and speculation tend to arise. In particular, there’s a rumor that the Strathmore Rose is in such poor condition or so fragile that it can’t be worn. I do not know the source of that suggestion and it may simply be speculation taken as fact; what we do know is that the tiara has been photographed alone a few times in recent decades and, obviously, the Queen has jewelers to fix things if that’s really what is needed or desired. (The Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara, for example, had its frame repaired multiple times during the Queen’s reign and was eventually remade in the 1980s.) Personally, I hope the Strathmore Rose Tiara will reappear someday – if for no other reason than to satisfy our curiosity.

Are you hoping for a reappearance?