I recently wrote a piece about the history of the royal tiaras featured in the first two seasons of The Crown. It turned into one of my longer posts just because Claire Foy, as Queen Elizabeth II, was given a multitude of tiaras and ornaments to wear. By comparison, this will be much shorter, as Olivia Colman inherited the role but apparently not the jewels.
Instead of the many tiaras and crowns we know the queen to wear, Olivia Colman appears wearing a great deal more hats.
As well as hats, she also wears a number of headscarves.
But this new focus on less sparkle doesn’t just extend to the Queen herself. In my other post I look at the tiaras worn by Princess Margaret. There’s her mystery tiara possibly based on Queen Mary’s Sapphire Bandeau, there’s the Cartier Halo Tiara, the Poltimore Tiara, but in seasons three and four, Margaret also features wearing…
Thankfully, the third and fourth seasons feature the occasional formal function where something a little less cotton and a little more diamond is required.
Season 3 Episode 1: Olding
We open the season with the queen looking at the new stamp portrait which features the George IV State Diadem. If you’ve read the first piece then you’d know this is the ‘diadem tiara’ that prompted this whole series. The tiara, created by George IV to wear in his coronation procession to Westminster Abbey had been worn by the queen on stamps, and in numerous banknotes from across the Commonwealth.
Later in the episode Elizabeth dons this mystery tiara to wear to an art exhibition. The exhibition in question is to celebrate the Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures, Sir Anthony Blunt, who the queen has just learned is a Soviet spy. [Dramatic gasp]. I don’t know, however, what this tiara is supposed to be. It might not be a replica of an existing piece, it might be fictional but it bears a similarity (in style at least) to a diamond and turquoise tiara given to the future Queen Mary of Teck as a wedding gift.
The shape of the tiara at least resembles the Turquoise and Diamond tiara, or at least resembled it. Queen Mary had a keen eye for altering her jewellery and in 1912 she had the tiara adjusted. Even adjusted though, the queen hasn’t worn it. It isn’t a part of either her personal or the Royal Collection. Instead, Queen Mary gave the turquoise set (including the tiara) to Lady Alice Scott when she married the queen’s son, Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester. Alice went on to break several world records when she became the oldest living royal in history, and upon her death, the jewels passed to her daughter-in-law, Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester.
Season 3, Episode 4: Bubbikins
Margaret briefly appears in episode 2 wearing the Poltimore tiara that she wore to her wedding, but we’re still a little jewel light for these early episode of the season. Episode 4 sees a state banquet of sorts being prepared and so the queen is appropriately turned out in Queen Mary’s diamond fringe tiara.
The diamonds incorporated into the tiara date back to George III and made into a necklace as another wedding present for Queen Mary, this time from Queen Victoria. Queen Mary had the necklace adjusted so it could be worn as a tiara, and Queen Elizabeth wore it at her own wedding to the Duke of Edinburgh.
Season 3, Episode 6: Tywysog Cymru
In episode 6 we finally get a look at a piece based in reality that we haven’t seen before. Tywysog Cymru follows the brief time Prince Charles spent in Aberystwyth learning Welsh before his Investiture as Prince of Wales. It’s the second episode of the season that considers how Wales is side-lined by an English government, and we even get to hear the story of Capel Celyn, drowned to give drinking water to Liverpool. Cofiwch Dryweryn.
At the Investiture we see Charles in the ‘Honours of Wales’ which refers to the regalia used at the ceremony. You might be thinking ‘gosh, that coronet looks a little… modern,’ and you would be right. Unlike the Crown Jewels or even the majority of the Royal Collection the Coronet of Charles, Prince of Wales does not have a long and storied history. It does, however, have one heck of a backstory.
The Investiture of the Prince of Wales is a relatively recent ceremony considering how long the monarch has been calling their eldest son by the title. The ceremony at Caernarfon Castle began in 1911 with the investiture of Edward, Prince of Wales. He wore the Coronet of George, which had been created for his father, George V, in 1901, when he had been Prince of Wales to wear to his father’s coronation. Ideally, Charles would have worn this, but when Edward became Edward VIII and then even quicker, became Edward, Duke of Windsor after his abdication he actually took it with him to France. This was very much seen as a theft but to ask for its return would be to run the risk of a refusal so it was decided all round easier, and preferable, to just have a new one made.
The Coronet of Prince Frederick had been a contender, and is seen in Season 2 worn by Prince Philip (for some reason) in a fictional scene. It was determined however, that the coronet was too fragile. Garrard, the prominent jewellers to the crown put forth a proposal but it was deemed too extravagant. Instead, the Goldsmith’s Company decided to gift the coronet for Charles’ investiture and commissioned architect, Louis Osman, to design and make it. The fact that they used an architect over a jeweller goes some way to explaining the interesting form the coronet takes. Although based on the form laid down by Charles II regarding what the coronet of the Prince of Wales should look like, it is an undeniably modern take on a traditional piece of regalia. Featuring a ping pong ball. No, seriously, that thing that looks like a ping pong ball at the top of it is actually a ping pong ball, albeit coated in gold. Well, it was made in England after all.
Season 3, Episode 9: Imbroglio
Imbroglio follows the end of life for the Duke of Windsor and the “end” of a relationship between Prince Charles and Camilla Shand. Charles is left heartbroken when Camilla marries her other lover, Andrew Parker-Bowles, not knowing that the marriage has been engineered by the Queen Mother and Lord Mountbatten.
At the end of the episode, the queen gives a speech at an anniversary dinner. Prince Philip did it last season and the queen looked gorgeous wearing Queen Alexandra’s Kokoshnik. This anniversary it’s the queen’s turn to make a speech which for some reason is way more formal and features a lot more guests. Where Philip spoke of love, Elizabeth speaks of her support for marriage as an institution. And she does so wearing…
A fictional tiara.
We also see the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret in…
Now at this point I’d point out tiaras that they kind of look like, resemble or might be based on, but these are entirely fictional creations. I’m not entirely sure why we’re seeing so many fictional tiaras given that they had so many replicas in season one. Did they lose them? Did they decide they wanted the queen to have a different look? I genuinely wonder because it’s such a stark difference.
Season 4, Episode 3: Fairytale
It’s the wedding day! The wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer was described as a ‘fairytale’ but the episode that features it shows how the lead up might have been anything but. Diana battles with bulimia, Charles is still very much with Camilla and his new bride is left isolated and frustrated at the palace. The couple seem to reconcile in time for the wedding, which isn’t actually shown seeing as the event, in its entirety, is available on YouTube. We do however get a glimpse of Diana in her wedding dress featuring her headwear of choice: The Spencer Tiara.
As a royal bride, the queen would have allowed Diana to wear a tiara from either her own, or the Royal Collection. Instead, Diana, like her sisters and her brother’s first wife, chose to wear the Spencer Tiara. The tiara has been in the Spencer family since 1919 when it was given to Diana’s grandmother, Lady Cynthia Hamilton when she married Albert Spencer who would become 7th Earl Spencer. The tiara was a gift from Lady Sarah Spencer who had it made from other jewels in her collection.
In 1930, Garrard who is known for their work with the jewels of the royal family, created the tiara in its current form. Three episodes later, Diana wears the tiara again in:
Season 4, Episode 6: Terra Nullius
Although Diana’s most iconic tiara look was arguably the Lover’s Knot, she frequently wore the Spencer tiara to formal occasions. The tiara, however, was never hers. It belongs to Earl Spencer, whoever that may be. During Diana’s lifetime this was first her father, then her brother. Even though she was the Princess of Wales, the tiara was never given to her and remains in the family. Diana was only loaned it when occasion called for it.
Season 4, Episode 7: The Hereditary Principle
Gasp and shock, we’re almost at the end of season but we get a glimpse of a new tiara. A glimpse is right, blink and you’d miss it. We see the queen arriving at the Royal Variety Show on a television, wearing The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara.
Like many of the queen’s jewels, this tiara began life with Queen Mary of Teck. Lady Eva Greville, who became one of Mary’s ladies in waiting, established a committee made up of girls from Great Britain and Ireland (hence the name) who raised funds to have the tiara made as a wedding present. As it was a gift for Mary of Teck, it came with the option of being worn as a tiara or a necklace. It was also adapted in the early 1990s so it could be worn as a headband. Greville arranged its commission from Garrard’s in 1893, and in 1947 Mary gave it to her granddaughter, Princess Elizabeth as a wedding present.
The tiara is thought to be one of the queen’s favourites and features on the banknotes of England.
Season 4, Episode 8: 48:1
Two episodes in a row and another accurate tiara! In a meeting of the Heads of the Commonwealth, the queen wears the Grand Duchess Vladimir tiara without any of its attachments. You can read all about the various attachments in the first post, including some scandalous emeralds in the first post.
The last tiara we see in the season is the York tiara worn by Sarah Ferguson at her wedding to Prince Andrew. Not that we see much of it, once again we’re limited to a quick shot of it through a television screen.
The York tiara wasn’t an existing piece of the queen’s collection that she loaned to Sarah for the big day. Instead, the queen commissioned it specifically for the wedding as a present from her and the Duke of Edinburgh. Garrard (but, of course) created the piece in 1986 though initially it went unseen. When she walked down the aisle, Sarah wore on her head an impressive crown of flowers which she only removed after signing the register to reveal the tiara, symbolising her entry into the royal family. Because it was gifted to Sarah personally, it remains her private property. Unlike other royal divorcees, when Sarah parted ways with Prince Andrew she was allowed to keep the tiara rather than hand it back to the crown, and she’s worn it many times since her divorce in 1996.
Disappointingly, that’s it. At least until Season 5 and 6 come out. Maybe Imelda Staunton will be luckier when it comes to the bling.
All images from The Crown were naturally, terribly screenshotted by myself from Netflix and mostly formatted/collated through the app PhotoGrid.
- gbstampsonline.com: 6d stamp
- The Illustrated London News in The Royal Jewels by Suzy Menkes: The wedding presents of Mary of Teck
- marieclaire.com.au: Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester
- purewow.com: Princess Beatrice
- rct.uk: Coronet of Prince Charles
- harpersbazaar.com: Princess Diana
- rct.uk: The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara
- royal-splendor.blogspot.com: Queen Mary
- mirror.co.uk: Sarah Ferguson
- orderofsplendor.blogspot.com: The York tiara
If you’d like to join me for more fun and games in picking apart history, and other behind the scene tangents, you can support me via my Patreon.