The glittering Tiara of the Illustrious Wellesley family. The Dukedom of Wellington was given to the illustrious hero who defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. The family, originally from Ireland, has been in the heart of British Society for the past two centuries. The current Duke owns Strathfield Saye House, Apsley House in London, and an estate in Spain to go with his Spanish dukedom. This Tiara, of scroll design, has been worn by numerous Duchesses of Wellington at society events.
The first recorded wearer of this Tiara is Elisabeth, 2nd Duchess of Wellington, who wore it for an engraving by Francis Holl, published in 1859. Elisabeth served as Mistress of the Robes to Queen Victoria in terms from 1860-1880. The 2nd Duke and Duchess had a happy marriage, despite their lack of children.
The next wearer of the Wellington Tiara was Kathleen, wife of the 4th Duke, (the 3rd Duke didn’t marry), who wore the Tiara for a series of portraits in 1906. She also wore it with Spanish dress, probably at the Wellington’s Spanish estate, and in a sketch on the cover of a newspaper.
None of subsequent Duchesses were depicted wearing the Wellington Tiara until Princess Antonia of Prussia wore it at her wedding to the Marquess of Douro, heir to the Dukedom, in 1977. Recently, after becoming Duchess, in 2014 she wore the Tiara at celebrations for the Waterloo Bicentenary. The Duke held a recreation of the famous Waterloo Banquet at Apsley House, their London residence. Among the guests were the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, a friend of the Duchess.
I think it is remarkable that the Wellesley family have managed to keep their family heirloom Tiara, and a few other pieces of jewelry, in the 21st century, when most families have sold their heirloom jewels. Many people were disappointed that Lady Charlotte Wellesley, youngest daughter of the Duke and Duchess, didn’t wear the family tiara at her wedding on May 28th. However, most of them agreed the elaborate heirloom would have distracted from the bride’s stuning Emilia Wickstead gown. We will probably see this Tiara on the current Duchess or her Daughter-in-law, Jemma, Marchioness of Douro, at the next Coronation.
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