26 October 2017

Tiara Thursday: The Harewood Scroll Tiara

Princess Mary, the Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood (1897-1965), was the third child and only daughter of King George V and Queen Mary. In 1922, she married Henry Lascelles, the 6th Earl of Harewood (titled Viscount Lascelles at the time of the wedding). She had a splendid jewel collection, the basis of which came from her haul of bejeweled wedding gifts, with tiaras including Queen Victoria’s Sapphire Coronet and a classic diamond fringe.

The Harewood Scroll Tiara
The crown jewel of her tiaras - at least in terms of size - was this diamond diadem. The tiara is a mix of lines of single diamonds and diamond-set scrolls, with a large cluster of diamonds as its centerpiece. While the exact provenance of the diadem is unknown, it may be of Russian origin, perhaps something that formerly belonged to a member of the imperial family.

Princess Mary in both diamond and sapphire versions of the tiara
Princess Mary regularly swapped out the cluster of diamonds at the center of the tiara for a sapphire and diamond brooch, and did the same with smaller pieces on the sides of the tiara. The brooch, a wedding gift from Queen Mary, was an oval sapphire surrounded by 14 diamonds. The classic design is instantly reminiscent of Prince Albert’s Sapphire Brooch, now worn by Queen Elizabeth II, as well as a lookalike brooch in the collection of the current Princess Royal, Princess Anne, both of which have 12-diamond borders.

The sapphire necklace, brooch, and necklace/devant de corsage regularly worn with the Harewood Scroll Tiara
The possible sapphire swap was a smart move, because Princess Mary’s jewel collection was particularly rich in sapphire pieces. Both her parents gave sapphires as wedding gifts, as did other members of the royal family: Queen Mary with the aforementioned brooch and King George V with Queen Victoria’s Sapphire Coronet and accompanying jewels. The bridegroom presented an ornate necklace of sapphires and diamond fringes, a Russian piece formally in the collection of the Grand Duchess Olga Feodorovna (as explained in this Royal Magazin piece).

Wearing the sapphire combination in 1956 at an army dinner
Princess Mary wore the necklace in swags on the front of her dresses, as a magnificent devant de corsage. Her grandest jewel combination was the sapphire version of the Harewood Scroll Tiara worn with the necklace that matched Queen Victoria’s Sapphire Coronet and the sapphire and diamond fringe necklace pinned to her gown. (It’s hard to imagine this level of splendor worn today, isn’t it? Necklace on the dress and all. Not that I wouldn’t love to see a few candidates try…)

Coronation, 1953
That grand sapphire combo saw two coronations, in 1937 for her brother, King George VI, and in 1953 coronation for her niece, Queen Elizabeth II. The Countess of Harewood attended countless other royal events as a member of the main royal family, regularly wearing her Scroll Tiara in both its sapphire and diamond formats.

The all diamond version
All those sapphires and this tiara are now scattered to the wind. Following Mary’s 1965 death, an auction in 1970 saw the sale of the Harewood Scroll Tiara for £9,500 (in its diamond version), the sapphire and diamond brooch for £10,500, and the sapphire and diamond necklace that matched the coronet for £8,000. The devant de corsage went earlier, in 1960, for £28,000. Most recently, Queen Victoria’s Sapphire Coronet was sold. Except for the coronet, which is tucked safely away with the Victoria & Albert Museum, the rest of these pieces have disappeared.

Who would you like to see try this one out today?