The Iconic Spencer Diamond Tiara Takes Spotlight Again After News Outlets' Erroneous Claims

Princess Diana's iconic wedding tiara became a hot topic in royal discussions again after Sotheby's London made an erroneous claim that her wedding tiara will be inherited by her eldest granddaughter, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge.

The magnificent Spencer Tiara is made of gold and diamonds. Photo credit: Sotheby's

It comes after an Australian magazine, New Idea, claimed (even though they don't have enough basis) that Charles Spencer, the 9th Earl Spencer of Althorp is planning to bequeath the tiara to Charlotte.

Royal fans were incensed reading on the claims because we all know that the Spencer Diamond Tiara is part of the Spencer estates and properties which can only be inherited by a male Spencer. 

As of this writing, the Spencer Diamond Tiara is under the custody of the 9th Earl of Althorp, Princess Diana's only brother. He inherited the tiara, together with the Spencer estates and properties, upon the death of their father, Johnny Spencer, 8th Earl of Althorp, in March 1992.

The history of Spencer Diamond Tiara

The tiara was made in 1937 for Countess Cynthia Spencer (born Lady Cynthia Hamilton) on the occasion of King George VI's coronation day. She was by then serving the British royal court as the Woman of the Bed Chamber of Queen Elizabeth, the consort of King George VI.

The magnificent Spencer Tiara is made of gold and diamonds. Photo credit: Sotheby's

According to Sothebys' catalog of tiaras, the Spencer Diamond Tiara was originally created in the 18th century for Viscountess Montagu and remodeled by the R & S Garrard Jeweler for Countess Spencer in 1937. 

The central motif was reportedly gifted by the mother of Johnny Spencer to his bride, Lady Cynthia, in 1919. Garrard added more elements and was designed in the garland style with continuous running scrolls interspersed with stars and trumpet-shaped flowers. It has pear-shaped diamonds mounted in gold.

Countess Spencer died in 1972. Three years later, in 1975, her husband, Albert Spencer, 7th Earl Spencer of Althorp, died. Diana's father became the 8th Earl Spencer and inherited all the Spencer properties and precious possessions. 

It is also interesting to note that Diana's mother, The Honorable Frances Burke-Roche (daughter of the 4th Baron Fermoy), did not wear the Spencer Tiara when she married Diana's father. She wore her family heirloom, The Fermoy Tiara. 

The Spencer Diamond Tiara as a wedding headpiece

The first Spencer bride to wear the tiara was Diana's older sister, Lady Jane Spencer when she married the Queen's assistant private secretary, Robert Fellowes, in 1978, who was promoted as the Queen's private secretary in later years. He was awarded by the Queen with a noble title, Baron Fellowes, upon his retirement from the royal service.

Robert Fellowes and Lady Jane Spencer in 1978

Followed by their eldest sister, Lady Sarah Spencer, in 1980, for her wedding to Neil McCorquodale

In 1981, The Queen loaned the Queen Mary's Lover's Knot Tiara to Lady Diana to be worn at her wedding to the Prince of Wales. However, Diana complained that the Lover's Knot Tiara has given her headache due to its weight, so she opted to wear her family heirloom.  

The Princess of Wales on her wedding day wearing the Spencer Diamond Tiara

Following the royal wedding, her father, the 8th Earl Spencer of Althorp, continued to loan it to her on special occasions when she needed to wear a light tiara, alternating with the Queen Mary's Lover's Knot Tiara.

The Prince and Princess of Wales following their wedding ceremony

The Spencer Tiara traveled back to Althorp in 1989 for the wedding of Diana's brother, Charles, Viscount Althorp, to Victoria Lockwood.

Charles Spencer wed Victoria Lockwood in 1989

Upon the death of her father in 1992, the tiara was passed to her younger brother but continued to loan it to her on state occasions. 

The Princess of Wales wore the Spencer Diamond Tiara on state occasions

When she died in 1997, the tiara was taken back to Althorp and put on display at the Althorp's exhibition gallery.

After the Princess of Wales's death, the tiara was not seen in public until 1998 when the 9th Earl Spencer organized an exhibit to honor his sister's memory. Diana: A Celebration, held in the Althorp Estate, and traveled around the world between 1998-2013. 

Charles Spencer married three times but only his first bride (Victoria Lockwood) wore the tiara to the wedding. The Earl's eldest daughter, Lady Kitty Spencer, wed in July 2021 to fashion tycoon, Michael Lewis in Rome, but she did not wear a tiara.

Lady Kitty Spencer wed Michael Lewis, a multimillionaire Fashion tycoon, in Rome, Italy, in 2021

Earl Spencer did not attend the wedding of his daughter, instead, Lady Kitty was ushered to the aisle by her brother, Louis Spencer, Viscount Althorp.

Celia McCorquodale and George Woodhouse wed in June 2018

The Spencer Diamond Tiara was spotted again as a wedding tiara when Lady Sarah's daughter, Celia Rose McCorquodale, wed in June 2018 to George Woodhouse. 

Who will inherit the Spencer Tiara?

New Idea, a weekly woman's magazine in Australia, claimed that the 9th Earl Spencer planned to bequeathed the iconic tiara to his great-niece, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, however, the magazine did not elaborate on where they got the information. No one from the press office of Lord Spencer substantiated the claim. 

From left: Lady Eliza Spencer, Louis Spencer, Victoria Atken, Lady Kitty Spencer at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in May 2018

But based on the rules of inheritance in the aristocracy, titles, estates, and possessions can only be passed to a male heir. Unless the current titleholder has no sons. 

Lord Spencer has two sons, and his heir-apparent, the current Viscount Althorp, Louis Spencer, is expected to inherit all the Spencer possessions in due time, including this popular Spencer diadem. 

Who can possibly wear the Spencer tiara?

However, Lord Spencer and his heir may loan it to any members of the Spencer family, so it is still possible to see Princess Charlotte and her cousin. Lilibeth Mountbatten-Windsor wearing the tiara. 

But with the royal family's extensive collection of tiaras, unless for sentimental reasons, it is unlikely that Princess Diana's granddaughters will request Lord Spencer to borrow the tiara.

There are also speculations about whether the Duchess of Cambridge will wear the tiara to honor the memory of her late mother-in-law. This is unlikely because the Queen has several tiaras available to be borrowed for state occasions. The Queen already loaned to her the Queen Mary's Lover's Knot tiara. 

The Intriguing note in Sotheby's digital catalog

A week ago, Sotheby's, a world-famous auction house, noted on its digital catalog about the Spencer Tiara - The Spencer Tiara is now set to be inherited by Princess Charlotte. The note attracted attention and criticism from royal experts because the 9th Earl Spencer has not heard releasing a statement that he will bequeath the tiara to his sister's granddaughter.

Recently Sotheby's made a correction on its digital catalog and edited the statement - The Spencer Tiara remains in the possession of the Spencer family.  

Related Article: Why Princess Diana Didn't Wear the Lover's Knot Tiara on Her Wedding Day

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