25 January 2018

Tiara Thursday: Queen Mary’s Lozenge Bandeau

As royal weddings approach and the guessing game turns to tiaras, there’s a lot of speculation about some of the rarer pieces in the British collection. Well, that may be in the collection. Here’s one that’s getting lots of questions:

Queen Mary's Lozenge Bandeau
This diamond bandeau tiara with geometric lozenge motifs belonged to Queen Mary and was also worn by Princess Margaret. What little we can say about this piece is summed up in Leslie Field’s The Queen’s Jewels: “When she was eighteen Princess Margaret borrowed a tiara from her grandmother Queen Mary. This diamond bandeau had lozenge-shaped motifs and was originally surmounted by thirteen large oval oriental pearls set on spikes. By 1946, however, Queen Mary had removed the pearls. In September 1948 the eighteen-year-old Princess wore it when on one of her first official engagements she represented King George VI at the Inauguration of Queen Juliana of the Netherlands in Amsterdam, the Dutch equivalent of a coronation.” (Margaret actually wore the tiara to an evening event for the inauguration. The event itself, like the inauguration of King Willem-Alexander, involved hats instead.)

Embed from Getty Images
Queen Mary wears the tiara in 1935 with the Duchess of Kent
I suspect that the pearls used on top of the Lozenge Bandeau by Queen Mary are the same pearls that once adorned the top of the Cambridge (or Queen Mary’s) Lover’s Knot Tiara. Thirteen of the top pearls from the Lover’s Knot Tiara were detachable, and there are 13 here. The pearls were made detachable from the larger tiara in 1932; by at least 1935, Mary was wearing them on this bandeau. Queen Mary was very fond of her jewel flexibility.

Queen Mary with pearls, Princess Margaret without
Princess Margaret did not wear the pearls on top of the tiara, just the bandeau portion. She first wore it to an event for Queen Juliana’s inauguration in 1948, then during the Dutch state visit to Britain in 1950, and also wore it in 1965.

Princess Margaret in 1950
British Pathe
These may have been her only appearances in the tiara; for a smaller tiara, she more frequently borrowed the Cartier Halo Tiara, before moving on to pieces of her own.

Princess Margaret wears the tiara in 1948 and (lower left) 1965
Nationaal Archief
It’s nothing but question marks after Princess Margaret’s last use of the Lozenge Bandeau, at least to date. The tiara hasn’t been seen since. It’s unknown if the piece still exists, and if so, whether it is with the Queen or went to Princess Margaret. Which makes it a bit of a long shot in any tiara guessing game, I'd say.

IF this tiara is still an option, who would you like to see take it for a spin?

One quick final note regarding a tiara with which the Lozenge Bandeau is often confused: Queen Mary also had a second small diamond bandeau tiara, which she wore with some of her Cambridge emeralds on top (another detachable, flexible option). This bandeau passed to the Kent branch of the family and was most likely later turned into the Kent Diamond and Pearl Fringe Tiara. You can check it out here, in my entry on that tiara.