10 March 2011

Tiara Thursday: Queen Mary's Fringe Tiara

Here we have a love it or hate it piece that may be worn rather infrequently these days, but packs quite a history nonetheless.
Queen Mary's Fringe Tiara
This is Queen Mary's Fringe Tiara, but you will also see it referred to as the King George III Fringe Tiara, or the Hanoverian Fringe Tiara, or some such other variation. This all stems from a bit of confusion around the origin of the piece.

Queen Adelaide, wife of King William IV, had a diamond fringe necklace including diamonds from King George III and Queen Charlotte which was inherited by Queen Victoria and has passed down as a Crown heirloom since then. Fringes are hard to tell apart, and since Adelaide's necklace was worn as a tiara (notably by Queen Victoria), the confusion is natural.
Queen Mary
Queen Mary wore Queen Adelaide's fringe as a tiara until she decided to have a new one made up as a tiara. For the new tiara, she dismantled a necklace Queen Victoria gave her as a wedding present which had been purchased from Collingwood & Co. in 1893. Garrard handled the creation of the new tiara, which includes 47 diamond bars divided by smaller diamond spikes and can also be used as a necklace. Queen Mary gave the new tiara to Queen Elizabeth in 1936.
Elizabeth lent it to her namesake daughter for its history-making appearance atop the bridal veil. (Does it appear to not be centered properly to anyone else? This has always bugged me about the Queen's wedding pictures. Of course, it famously broke on the bride's wedding day and had to be speedily repaired, so she was probably just glad she had a tiara to wear at all.)
And then she lent it out again to her granddaughter, Princess Anne, for another bridal appearance.
Apart from these weddings, this piece remained out of the public eye for decades as the Queen Mother seemed to prefer two of her other tiaras for her own use in her later years. But then, in a thoroughly uncharacteristic move, Queen Elizabeth brought it out after the Queen Mother's death.
You see, tiara hair really is everything. And that, my friends, is one of the reasons why I'd like to see it on Kate. I love a good fringe; I know many of you don't. But apart from the ever-present danger of getting one's eye poked out by this spiky bit of bling, I think it'd be a great choice for Kate. It's got history, but it's not an overt favorite. (The Queen doesn't tend to share her favorites.) The design is refreshingly modern for such a storied shape, and Kate's shown a more modern, simple style to date.

Photos: PA/Munn/Fields/Royal Collection