When we think of royal weddings, we think of tiaras. Sure, there are other hallmarks of blue-blooded nuptials—horse-drawn carriages, towering cathedrals, guest lists studded with kings and queens—but nothing says ‘royal’ quite like a headpiece glittering with millions of dollars’ worth of diamonds.
And, of the royal families still in business around the world, no one does a tiara moment better than the British.
Throughout the years, British princesses and duchesses, as well as a few ‘commoners,’ have donned sparkling tiaras to wed. Some have been heirloom pieces, passed down from generation to generation. Others have been brand new, made for a new addition into the royal family. Others even boast a sordid history or mysterious background.
Because royal wedding tiaras combine two of our favourite things—big diamonds and even bigger diamonds—we’ve done a retrospective on every tiara worn by a royal bride.
The name: The Cartier Halo Tiara. The wearer: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. The history: Originally created in 1936 by Cartier, this delicate tiara incorporates diamond ‘scrolls’ set on a flexible band. It was worn by Catherine “Kate” Middleton on her wedding day in 2011.
The name: Queen Mary’s Diamond Bandeau Tiara. The wearer: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. The history: When Meghan Markle wed Prince Harry in 2018, she wore the simple arced, Diamond Bandeau Tiara. Created by Queen Mary of Teck, the piece has 11 flexible sections set around the centre diamond, which was originally a brooch.
The name: The Greville Emerald Kokoshnik Tiara. The wearer: Princess Eugenie of York. The history: Made for the Hon. Mrs. Ronald Greville in 1912 by Boucheron, Mrs Greville gave the tiara to Elizabeth, the Queen Mother in 1942, although she never wore it. It consists of seven emeralds set amongst brilliant and rose-cut diamonds in a ‘kokoshnik’ style arc. The centre emerald weighs in at 93 carats.
The tiara: The Spencer Tiara. The wearer: Diana, Princess of Wales. The history: Although most of the tiaras on this list are owned by the British Royal Family, the tiara worn by Lady Diana Spencer to marry Prince Charles in 1981 was actually owned by the bride’s family. This whimsical tiara features shooting stars, hearts, diamond cascades and scrolls.
The tiara: Queen Mary’s Fringe Tiara. The wearer: Queen Elizabeth II; Princess Anne. The history: At her wedding in 1947, then-Princess Elizabeth wore her grandmother’s fringe tiara to anchor her veil. This tiara was later worn by her daughter, Princess Anne, on her wedding day in 1973.
Princess Anne wearing the Queen Mary’s Fringe Tiara.
The name: The Kent City of London Fringe Tiara. The wearer: Princess Alexandra, Lady Ogilvy; Princess Michael of Kent; Lady Gabriella Windsor. The history: Made of diamond spires set in gold, this tiara was given to Princess Marina by the City of London on her wedding day. It was worn by Princess Alexandra in 1963, by Princess Michael—née Marie Christine Anna Agnes Hedwig Ida von Reibnitz—on the night of her wedding in 1978, and by Lady Gabriella Windsor in 2019.
Princess Michael of Kent wearing the Kent City of London Fringe Tiara.
Lady Gabriella Windsor wearing the Kent City of London Fringe Tiara.
The name: The York Diamond Tiara. The wearer: Sarah, Duchess of York. The history: When Sarah Ferguson married Prince Andrew in the ’90s, she got more than a princely husband; she also got a brand new tiara. The royal family had this tiara made by Garrard for the bride.
The tiara: The Meander Tiara. The wearer: Zara Tindall. The history: Originally owned by Princess Andrew of Greece, this geometric tiara is currently owned and worn by Princess Anne. However, when her daughter, Zara Phillips, married footballer Mike Tindall in 2011, she lent her this piece to get started.
The name: The Festoon Tiara. The wearer: Autumn Phillips. The history: For her wedding to Peter Phillips in 2008, Autumn Kelly borrowed the ‘Festoon Tiara’ from her mother-in-law, Princess Anne, to wear. The design is centred around diamond and platinum festoons, topped by round-cut diamonds.
The tiara: Sophie, Countess of Wessex’s, wedding tiara. The wearer: Sophie, Countess of Wessex. The history: For her wedding to Prince Edward, Sophie Rhys-Jonas wasn’t loaned a tiara to wear, but given a new one made out of pre-existing diamond pieces.
The tiara: The Poltimore Tiara. The wearer: Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon. The history: Choosing not to wear any of the tiaras owned by her older sister, Queen Elizabeth, Princess Margaret actually chose to take out a loan on the colossal Poltimore Tiara to wear on her wedding day in 1960.
The name: The Snowdon Floral Tiara. The wearer: Lady Sarah Chatto. The history: When Jasper Conran was designing Lady Sarah’s gown in 1994, rumour has it that he saw three separate diamond floral brooches, and made the suggestion that they be strung together as a tiara. The bride then enlisted the help of jeweller Wartski who created a frame for the brooches, adding fresh leaves either side on the day. Nowadays, the brooches are worn as separates and not as a tiara.
The tiara: The Lotus Flower Tiara. The wearer: Serena Armstrong-Jones, Countess of Snowdon. The history: This tiara, which incorporates ‘lotus’ motifs, was made from a necklace given to the Queen Mother. Serena Stanhope wore it on her wedding day in 1993.
The tiara: The Kent Diamond and Pearl Fringe Tiara. The wearer: Lady Helen Taylor. The history: This tiara was originally owned by Queen Mary of Teck and features a distinctive ‘comb’ style of diamond spires, topped by pearls.