The Five Favorite Tiaras of Queen Elizabeth II During Her Lifetime

Queen Elizabeth II's Favorite Tiaras

The British royal family has some of the most extensive collections of jewelry in the world, among these magnificent jewels are the arrays of splendid tiaras. Some of these pieces were handed down by previous monarchs and became part of the Crown Property.

During her long reign, Queen Elizabeth II was seen wearing different pieces from this collection but based on her public appearances, especially during state occasions, and official portraits, it looks like she had a few favorite headpieces.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip Coronation Portrait
Official Coronation portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

The Queen's Favorites

Apart from the Imperial State Crown, which the British monarchs wore on Coronation Day and the Opening of the Parliament, Queen Elizabeth II often relied on the following head toppers during state occasions and official portraits.

1. George IV Diadem

Originally created for King George IV to wear on his coronation day in 1821, George IV Diadem have 1,333 diamonds set in silver and gold. It incorporates the national emblems of the thistle, rose, and shamrock.  The diamonds were hired, rather than purchased, for the coronation, as was conventional at that time. However, George IV decided to keep the diadem after the event and settled the bill for a little over £8,000.
George IV Diadem
George IV Diamond Diadem. Credit; Royal Collection Trust

In the following reign, the diadem was worn regularly by Queen Adelaide, consort of William IV, and this established a tradition of feminine wear. Queen Victoria wore the piece for many paintings and photographs – as well as on several early postage stamps.  

George IV Diadem

George IV Diadem

Queen Elizabeth II first wore this diadem on her way to Westminster Abbey for her coronation in June 1953. She regularly wore it on her way to the Opening of the State Parliament since then. This tiara is associated with the monarchs and the Queen Consorts.

2. The Queen Mary's Fringe Tiara

This is also Queen Elizabeth II's wedding tiara in 1947 when she was still Princess Elizabeth. It was loaned to her by her grandmother, Queen Mary, who owned this diamond tiara.

Queen Mary Fringe Tiara
Queen Mary's Fringe Tiara. credit: Royal Collection Trust

Apart from the Queen, two British Princesses wore this tiara on their respective wedding day. Princess Anne, the Queen's only daughter, in November 1973, and the Queen's granddaughter, Princess Beatrice of York in July 2020. 

Queen Mary Fringe Tiara
Princess Elizabeth on her wedding day in 1947

Queen Mary Fringe Tiara
The Queen wearing the Queen Mary's Fringe Tiara

The Queen Mary's Fringe Tiara featured 47 bars of diamonds and formed like a Kokoshnik or Russian headdress. It was made for Queen Mary in 1919 by the Crown Jeweler, Garrard, from the pieces of diamonds that Queen Victoria gave then Princess Mary of Teck for her wedding to the future King George V in 1893.

Queen Mary Fringe Tiara
Princess Beatrice on her wedding day

Queen Mary Fringe Tiara
The Queen and Prince Philip. Official portrait

3. Princess Alexandra's Kokoshnik Tiara

Not to confuse with the Queen Mary's Fringe Tiara, this diamond headpiece, has been crafted similar to a Russian headdress or the Kokoshnik. It was originally made as a wedding anniversary gift to Princess Alexandra when she was still the Princess of Wales.

Princess Alexandra Kokoshnik Tiara
Queen Elizabeth wearing the Princess Alexandra Kokoshnik Tiara

This tiara has a significant backstory that involves the imperial Romanovs. In 1888, Prince Bertie and Princess Alexandra (born Princess of Denmark) then the Prince and Princess of Wales, celebrated their silver wedding anniversary.

A group of aristocratic women - namely the Marchioness of Salisbury, the Marchioness of Ailesbury, Countess Spencer (great-grandmother of Princess Diana); and the Countess of Cork, reportedly pooled their resources to form a committee called the “Ladies of Society.”  The committee raised the necessary money to buy a major piece of jewelry for Princess Alexandra. 

Princess Alexandra Kokoshnik Tiara
Queen Elizabeth II

Princess Alexandra Kokoshnik Tiara
The Queen and Prince Philip

When she was asked what kind of gift she wanted, Princess Alexandra reportedly said a tiara similar to the tiara worn by her younger sister, Princess Dagmar of Denmark who became Empress Marie Feodorovna of Russia. The empress often wore a grand diamond fringe tiara shaped like a Kokoshnik, a halo-shaped headdress worn by Russian women. 

The Ladies of Society turned to the crown jeweler, Garrard, to make a tiara similar to the Romanov headpiece. Garrard then crafted a tiara of white and yellow gold set with diamonds made of individual pavé-set bars. 

Princess Alexandra Kokoshnik Tiara
The Queen wears the Kokoshnik Tiara of her great-grandmother and the Queen Mary's Fringe Tiara converted into a necklace

Princess Alexandra’s Kokoshnik Tiara featured 77 of these fringe pieces, and the entire tiara was packed with more than 400 diamonds. She first wore it publicly to the wedding of her son, the future King George V, to Princess Mary of Teck in 1893. 

This tiara has been one of Queen Elizabeth II's favorite tiaras due to its regal and timeless design. She often wore it on state occasions and official portraits.

4. The Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara

Just like Princess Alexandra Kokoshnik Tiara, the Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara has an imperial Romanov origin, It was bought by Queen Mary from Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia, who became the wife of Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark (uncle of Prince Philip). Grand Duchess Elena was the only daughter of the tiara's original owner, Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna the Elder. Her youngest daughter, Princess Marina, married Prince George, Duke of Kent, in 1934.

Vladimir Tiara
Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara can be worn in three ways

This tiara had a thrilling story worthy of a James Bond movie, on how it traveled to London from Saint Petersburg during the Russian Revolution in 1917. It was smuggled by Grand Duchess Maria's friend, a British spy, and her son, Grand Duke Boris, from the Vladimir Palace. You can read the related story of Vladimir Tiara here

Vladimir Tiara a favorite of the Queen
Queen Elizabeth II wears Vladimir Tiara in three ways

Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich of Russia, the third son of Emperor Alexander II and Princess Marie of Hesse and by Rhine, commissioned the crown jeweler, Bolin, to craft a beautiful tiara out of the diamonds given to him as a wedding gift, for his wife, Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, who was born Duchess Marie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. 

Vladimir Tiara is crafted from diamonds and formed like interlocking loops. It can be worn in three ways - without pendants, with pearls, or with emeralds as hanging gems on each loop. Queen Mary had it redesigned using her own collection of emeralds.

The Queen and Prince Philip. Official portrait in 1959

It became one of Queen Elizabeth II's favorite tiaras when she inherited it from Queen Mary in 1953, and one of the earliest periods that she was seen in public wearing this headpiece was in 1959 in an official portrait with Prince Philip (above photo). 

5. Queen Mary’s Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara

This is one of the most versatile tiaras of the British royal family because it can be worn either as a tiara or a necklace. It is sometimes called the "granny’s tiara" by members of the Royal Family, referring to Queen Mary. 

Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara. Credit: Royal Collection Trust

This tiara was commissioned by the "Girls of Great Britain and Ireland", a group of ladies-in-waiting, as a wedding gift to Princess Mary of Teck, later Queen Mary, for her 1893 wedding to then Prince George, Duke of York, and later King George V. 

Queen Elizabeth II's earlier portrait during her reign

The Queen and Prince Philip. Official portrait

It was purchased from Garrard using the money raised by a committee chaired by Lady Eva Greville, who became one of Queen Mary’s ladies-in-waiting.  The tiara was designed in festoon and fleur-de-lis and made of diamonds set in silver and gold. 

The original version in 1893 was topped by fourteen pearls. Inside the custom mahogany box provided by the jeweler, a second frame was also supplied, which allowed the tiara to be worn as a coronet. 

The Queen's earlier portrait wearing this tiara

Queen Elizabeth II wearing the Girls of Britain and Ireland Tiara

A tiara that was a wedding gift from her grandmother

In November 1947 Queen Mary gave the tiara as a wedding present to her granddaughter, Princess Elizabeth.  And when she became Queen in 1952, Elizabeth II began wearing it frequently, including in her very first portrait as the new British Sovereign. 

The Queen and Prince Philip posed for an official portrait with the Queen wearing the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara

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