05 May 2011

Tiara Thursday: The Cartier Halo Tiara

Prior to the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, we took a look at some of the tiaras owned by the British royal family that I thought could be bridal possibilities. One of those guesses, the Scroll Tiara, turned out to be correct. Since its starring role in the wedding, we have new information, new pictures, and a new name for this piece. Thus, this updated and rewritten tiara history.

Prior to the wedding of William and Kate, this tiara was commonly known as the Scroll Tiara. In the official information released about the bride's attire, the Palace referred to it as a 'halo' tiara, and I have used both names and combinations thereof here. This delicate diamond piece has served as something of a starter tiara for royal ladies throughout the years, beginning with Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.
The tiara was made by Cartier in 1936 from diamonds and platinum and was purchased by the Duke of York for his Duchess three weeks before he became King George VI and she became Queen Elizabeth (the future Queen Mother). The only picture of her wearing it was taken after she received it and before she became queen consort. She switched to other, grander pieces once her tiara access increased.
She soon passed the tiara on to her daughter, Princess Elizabeth (the current Queen), as an 18th birthday present (1944). This Queen must not have been terribly fond of it either, as she's never worn it publicly. She received the tiara during wartime, when tiara occasions were probably scarce or largely private. By the time she started wearing tiaras in public, she was married and had been given other tiara options.

The Queen has made a practice of lending it out, however. The first loan was to Princess Margaret, and it became a go-to tiara in her early years. She stopped wearing it as her own tiara collection grew, especially after the Queen Mother gave Margaret the Lotus Flower Tiara.
And it served the very same purpose for Princess Anne, who also borrowed this tiara. She last wore the Halo Tiara publicly in the early 1970s, at which point the Queen had given her the Meander Tiara and she had received the Festoon Tiara as a gift for a ship christening.
After a few decades' rest, the tiara made its most famous appearance to date: anchoring the bridal veil of Catherine Middleton.
Though this tiara is not a favorite of mine (looks like waves rushing away from your forehead to me), I think it was a great choice to lend to Kate. It's small, but not too small, and fitting for her new status as the wife of the heir to the heir. It has history, but it isn't infamous - it's no Cambridge Lover's Knot. It's a great all-purpose diamond piece and it has a modern look that suits the style we've come to know from Kate.
I'll steal from commenter Daniel, who left this observation on the original Scroll post: it was originally bought for a commoner that became a Duchess, and then a Queen; the same ultimate outcome we expect from Catherine. And its origins are with one of the only women that have managed to make that transition successfully, both with the country and at home, in the last century. Additionally, a tiara that once belonged to a Scottish girl is perhaps a nice nod to the Scottish beginnings of William and Kate.

And as a bonus for the new Duchess, she already has matching earrings: a gift from her parents for her wedding day, these specially commissioned pieces from Robinson Pelham perfectly echo the scroll elements in addition to including acorns to echo her family's crest.
What did you think of this tiara on Kate? Are you happy, or were you longing for something else?