28 August 2014

Tiara Thursday: The Snowdon Floral Tiara

The Snowdon Floral Tiara
Lady Sarah Chatto’s wedding gown has been discussed several times on this site; the Jasper Conran gown wins a general crowd approval, as does her pairing of the gown with what we’ve referred to as the Snowdon Floral Tiara, a gorgeous diamond floral tiara that breaks into three separate brooches. The tiara has often been reported (including on this site) as having been a gift from Lady Sarah’s father, the Earl of Snowdon, to her mother, the late Princess Margaret, but something about that description never quite rang true: Princess Margaret was never pictured wearing it as a tiara. Would she really have let a tiara from her husband go unworn? Thanks to this year’s wedding gown exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum (and to the many readers that visited and reported back), that little discrepancy has finally been cleared up.
Above, all three brooches used by Lady Sarah (center) on her dress in 1997.
The answer is, quite simply, that the tiara was never worn as a tiara by Princess Margaret because it did not exist as a tiara when Margaret owned it. Lord Snowdon’s originally gave his wife not a complete tiara, but three separate antique brooches. They weren’t used together as a headpiece until the preparations for the 1994 wedding began. Jasper Conran saw the pieces in Lady Sarah’s possession when designing the wedding gown and made the suggestion; Wartski was enlisted to make a frame that would hold the largest brooch as the centerpiece and position the two smaller brooches at either side. The brooch fittings remain in place, and the brooches and frame are in Lady Sarah’s possession. She can be seen wearing all three pieces as dress ornaments above and she also wore pieces at her mother’s funeral in 2002. Her half-sister Lady Frances wore them in her hair for her own wedding.
The only time the “Snowdon Floral Tiara” has been worn as a tiara was at that wedding (which was also the only time we’ve seen Lady Sarah wear a tiara, period), but I’m curious to see it used again. It’s a fantastic take on the traditional diamond floral tiara with lots of dimension to it, but the arrangement is clearly set up for, and enhanced by, the use of a veil behind and greenery to the sides. Would it translate to a normal hairstyle? I hope someday we’ll find out.

Where does this rank on your list of favorite diamond floral pieces?

Photos: Royal Household, UK Press via Getty Images