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Here's Why Princess Diana Didn't Wear The Queen Mary's Lover's Knot Diadem On Her Wedding Day

We have been calling this iconic tiara wrong all along. 

It is incorrect to call it The Cambridge Lover's Knot Tiara because it is not. Here's Why:

One of the most stunning head sparklers in Queen Elizabeth II's extensive jewelry collection is this headpiece closely associated with the late Princess of Wales. 

The current image of The Queen Mary's Lover's Knot Tiara. Getty Images

We often heard royal fans calling it The Cambridge Lover's Knot Tiara. It's not. It is just a duplicate. The Crown Jeweller pointed out that the correct name of this iconic royal tiara is The Queen Mary's Lover's Knot Tiara.

Queen Mary wearing her Lover's Knot Tiara version with a row of upright pearls

This tiara was created for Queen Mary, the consort of King George V, (hence the name) in 1913 by the Crown Jeweler, Garrard's. 

Queen Mary was said to have greatly admired one of her grandmother's (Princess Augusta, Duchess of Cambridge) headpieces, The Cambridge Lover's Knot tiara, that she dismantled one of her precious tiaras from her jewelry collection, The Ladies of England Tiara, to create a duplicate.

She was seen wearing it at several royal functions and in many official portraits. When she passed away in 1953, it was inherited by her granddaughter, the Queen, who also wore it several times in the 1950s and 1960s but without the row of upright pearls. 

The Original Cambridge Lover's Knot Tiara

Princess Augusta of Hesse-Kassel married one of King George III's sons, Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge. Among the wedding presents she received from her family was the Diamond and Pearl Tiara with a lover's knot motif. It has eventually given a new name, The Cambridge Lover's Knot Tiara.

Image of the original Cambridge Lover's Knot Tiara. Photo credit: Christie's via The Court Jeweller

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had three children: Princess Augusta, Prince George, and Princess Mary Adelaide - the mother of Queen Mary. 

As Duchess of Cambridge and daughter-in-law of the king, Princess Augusta regularly attended important royal functions, and despite having other tiaras in her collection, she often wore the Cambridge Lover's Knot Tiara to royal events, most prominently in 1838, during the coronation of her husband's niece, Queen Victoria.

Princess Augusta of Cambridge, later Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, wearing the original Cambridge Lover's Knot Tiara. Getty Images

Princess Augusta passed this tiara as a gift to her eldest daughter, Princess Augusta on the occasion of her marriage to Grand Duke Friedrich Wilhelm of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. 

When their daughter, Duchess Jutta of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, married Danilo, the Crown Prince of Montenegro, they gave the tiara as a wedding present.

Nothing was heard about the whereabouts of the original Cambridge Lover's Knot tiara. Crown Princess Jutta was not seen wearing it in public. She and Crown Prince Danilo did not have any children.

In 1981, the tiara resurfaced in public at Christie's public auction.

The tiara was then purchased by German aristocrats, Prince Georg and Princess Marie Gabrielle von Waldburg zu Zeil. And remained in their family's possession until today. The current wearer of the original Cambridge Lover's Knot tiara is Princess Mathilde, the daughter-in-law of Prince George and Princess Marie Gabrielle.

The Queen Mary's Lover's Knot Tiara

However, Queen Mary's version was grander and taller. 

Queen Mary wearing her Lover's Knot Tiara

According to The Court Jeweller, it was topped with a row of upright pearls from the dismantled "Ladies of England" tiara of Queen Mary. 

Later, the row of upright pearls was removed from the tiara retaining only the row of diamond brilliants and the line of pearls, this is the image of the tiara that we have seen in the present time.

The Splendid Characteristics of the Lover's Knot Tiara

According to Internet Stones, The Queen Mary's version has splendid characteristics. The circlet is made up of a lower semi-circular band, set with a row of round brilliant-cut diamonds, 19 inverted arches arise from the lower band, also set with round brilliant-cut diamonds.

The Prince and Princess of Wales during an official visit in Canada

Two adjacent arches meet a pillar-like structure, rising up and ends in a large round brilliant-cut diamond and forming a spike. The tiara features 19 diamond spikes. The scroll motifs are placed at the upper end of each inverted arch.

The center of each knot is occupied by a large round brilliant-cut diamond from which arises two large drop-shaped pearls, one suspended in the space inside the inverted arch, and the other rising above the surface of the tiara as a spike.

Diana, Princess of Wales, was the famous wearer of The Queen Mary's Lover's Knot Tiara

The pearl spikes that rise up above the surface also follow a similar trend in size and arrangement., Thus, the design of this tiara shows a perfectly symmetrical feature. The Gothic-revival features are the 19 arches and the 19 pearl spikes and 19 diamond spikes rising above the surface. 

Loaned to Lady Diana Spencer

In Britain, the Queen usually decides which among the head sparklers from her jewelry collection must be loaned to the royal bride. 

When Lady Diana Spencer was about to marry Prince Charles in July 1981, The Queen loaned her The Queen Mary's Lover's Knot Tiara to be worn on her wedding day.

The Prince and Princess of Wales at the balcony of Buckingham Palace

However, everyone was surprised when the future Princess of Wales arrived on the steps of St. Paul's Cathedral on July 29, 1981, wearing her family heirloom, the Spencer Diamond Tiara.

The Possible Reason

No verified reason why Princess Diana opted to wear her family heirloom on her wedding day. Some royal fans assumed Diana decided to wear the Spencer Tiara as a way of continuing a family tradition. 

It was worn both by her two older sisters to their respective weddings, Lady Jane in 1978 and Lady Sarah in 1980. 

However, according to a royal insider, the most proven reason why she opted to wear the Spencer Tiara was due to its lighter weight compared to The Queen Mary's Lover's Knot sparkler. 

The Princess of Wales wearing The Queen Mary's Lover's Knot Tiara

Diana reportedly complained her head got hurt wearing The Queen Mary's Lover's Knot Tiara due to its weight, so she chose to wear the Spencer Tiara instead.

Nonetheless, the tiara became one of Diana's favorite headpieces, she was seen wearing the topper several times on state occasions and in official portraits. 

The Princess of Wales wearing the Spencer Tiara

But she continued to borrow the Spencer Tiara from her father on some occasions due to its lighter weight. When her divorce from Prince Charles became final in 1996, the Queen Mary's Lover's Knot Tiara was returned to The Queen.

Duchess of Cambridge, the current wearer of The Queen Mary's Lover's Knot Tiara

It was not seen in public after the sudden death of the Princess of Wales in 1997. Until 2015, when The Queen loaned it to The Duchess of Cambridge during the Diplomatic Reception at Buckingham Palace.

The Spencer Diamond Tiara

This Spencer family heirloom is made of diamond elements and was created in 1937 for Lady Cynthia Hamilton-Spencer, the paternal grandmother of Princess Diana. She wore it on the occasion of the coronation of King George VI. 

The Spencer Diamond Tiara. Image from Tumblr

Lady Cynthia was the daughter of James Hamilton, 3rd Duke of Abercorn. She married Diana's grandfather, Albert, 7th Earl Spencer of Althorp in 1919. She served as the Lady of the Bedchamber of Queen Elizabeth, consort of George VI, and mother of the current queen.

Countess Spencer died in 1972, three years later, her husband, the 7th Earl Spencer, also passed away. The Spencer Diamond Tiara was inherited by their only son, Johnny Spencer, the 8th Earl Spencer of Althorp, Diana's father.

It became iconic when the Princess of Wales wore it at her wedding to the Prince of Wales in 1981. After the wedding, her father continued to loan it to her, wearing it to some important royal functions.

However, in March 1992, following the death of her father, her only brother, Charles Spencer, inherited the Spencer estates, properties, and jewelry collection including the Spencer Tiara. 

Many have claimed the new Earl requested his sister to return the tiara to Althorp, a rumor debunked by some royal observers as the Princess of Wales was continue wearing the tiara after 1992.

Following Diana's death in 1997, the 9th Earl Spencer organized an exhibit honoring her memory. And the Spencer Tiara was put on display for public viewing, together with her wedding dress. 

First and last
The Spencer diadem was first worn as a wedding tiara by Lady Jane Spencer in 1978, followed by Lady Sarah in 1980, Lady Diana in 1981, Victoria Lockwood in 1989, and the most recent, Celia McCorquodale in 2018

The 9th Earl Spencer married three times, but only his first wife wore the Spencer Tiara, Victoria Lockwood, whom he married in 1989 when he was still Viscount Althorp. 

After Victoria Lockwood, only one Spencer descendant wore it to her wedding. Celia McCorquodale, the daughter of Lady Sarah Spencer-McCorquodale. Celia walked down the aisle in June 2018, wearing the famous Spencer diadem. 

Who will inherit the Spencer Tiara?

Definitely not Princess Charlotte of Cambridge as what New Idea, a weekly women's magazine in Australia, had allegedly reported. The Spencer Tiara belonged to the Spencer estates. It would surely be inherited by Charles Spencer's son and heir, Louis Spencer, Viscount Althorp, in due time.

Neither of Princess Diana's granddaughters can inherit this tiara as what other royal fans had wished for. It is part of the Spencer family estates and can only be passed to a male Spencer.

Although it can be loaned to a family member on important occasions like weddings, it's unlikely Charlotte or Lilibet will borrow it as the royal family has an extensive collection of tiaras.

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