The Manners family, Dukes of Rutland, have dominated English society for centuries. The family still own two stately homes: Belvoir Castle, Leicestershire and Haddon Hall, Derbyshire. This intricate floral Tiara composed of carnations amid diamond leaves in gold has been in the family since the 18th century.
Janetta, Duchess of Rutland, wife of the 7th Duke, was pictured wearing the tiara on two separate occasions in 1899. She is wearing another family heirloom, the diamond rivière with a cross pendant. The next Duchess, Violet, wasn’t photographed wearing the piece, though she is one of the most famous Duchess of Rutland. Violet sculpted so well that Rodin compared her with Donatello, and Watts said she drew like Holbein.She was also one of the leading members of The Souls, an aristocratic social circle that favoured intellectual pursuits and avant-garde artistic tastes.
The next person photographed wearing the Rutland Tiara was the socialite Lady Diana Cooper, daughter of Violet, in 1937, by Society photographer Cecil Beaton for Vogue. She borrowed the Tiara from her sister-in-law, Kathleen, Duchess of Rutland, wife of the 9th Duke.
Kathleen, Duchess of Rutland wore the Tiara in May, 1937 for the Coronation of King George VI and Queen Elisabeth. She was one of the Canopy Bearers for the Queen, along with three other Duchesses, during the Coronation Ceremony. Kathleen Manners was also photographed wearing the piece in 1959, when she was the Dowager Duchess.
Kathleen’s daughter; Lady Ursula D’Abo nee Manners, describes how she saved the Rutland tiara during the Blitz in her autobiography The Girl with the Widows Peak: ” After a narrow escape in the Blitz, I rang my mother and said I’d better collect all the family valuables I could from the banks and jewellery shops. My mother had really no idea of what was happening in the capital and said: ‘ don’t be silly, London is the safer place to be!’ It was typical of the lack of communication in there was England at the time. I was desperate to get home, and Lord Beaverbrook, …, arranged some transport. I headed off to Carrington’s in Regents st. to see my lovely old Mr Hughes, who looked after our family jewels, to rescue things and take them back to Belvoir. When I arrived home with the family tiara on my knee my mother was surprised.“
The next person to be photographed in the piece was her daughter-in-law, Frances Manners, Duchess of Rutland, daughter of the infamous Margret, Duchess of Argyll. She wore it at the coming out ball of her husbands niece, Lindy Guinness (now Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava), at Belvoir Castle in the 1950s. She was also photographed wearing it at the State Opening of Parliament in 1960.
Photo: Steve Daniels
The last time the Tiara was photographed was for the wedding of Lady Theresa Manners, daughter of Frances and the 10th Duke, in 1997. There are no public pictures of the current Duchess, Emma, wearing the Tiara, but she might have worn it at a private event. If the Tiara is still in the Manners Family, we will probably see it when Ladies Violet, Alice, and Eliza Manners, daughters of the current Duke, get married or at the next Coronation.