Belonging to the Anglo-Irish Marquess Dufferin and Ava, the Dufferin Tiara was commissioned in the 1860s for the wife of the first Marquess, and has subsequently been worn by Marchionesses of Dufferin at grand events. It is composed of large diamond shamrocks over a diamond base with pear-shaped pearls over diamond floral clusters.
Harriet Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood, the first Marchioness, was the wife of the first Marquess of Dufferin and Ava, who was Viceroy of India and Governor General of Canada in the 1870s, and wore the tiara at many occasions during the course of her viceregal life, at grand receptions, balls, and for official portraits. The first Marchioness is best known for her charity work for women in British India, and gives her name to the famous Lady Dufferin Hospital in Karachi.
The next Lady Dufferin to be pictured in the Tiara was Maureen Guinness, the 4th Marchioness, who was a fascinating figure, who came from the famous Irish family, got widowed during WWII, and threw famous parties until her death in 1996. One of her daughters was the famous Lady Caroline Blackwood, the first wife of artist Lucien Freud. The 4th Marchioness wore the tiara throughout her life: at the Coronation of 1937, State Openings of Parliament, and at her infamous parties, though her granddaughter also recalled an incident:
At my mother’s coming-out ball, attended by Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, my grandmother ‘overserved’ herself champagne and slipped on the dancefloor, cracking the priceless shamrock-shaped family tiara. She never drank again.
Maureen loaned the Tiara to her daughter-in-law, Lindy Guinness, for the latter’s wedding in 1964. Lindy, who also hailed from the Dukes of Rutland, married Sheridan, the 5th Marquess, who was homosexual. They couple had no children, threw popular parties at their homes in London and Northern Ireland, and on his death, in 1988, the title became extinct. The last Lady Dufferin inherited the Family Seat, Clandeboye in Northern Ireland, and became an artist, conservationist and businesswoman.
Today, the Dufferin Tiara is loaned to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London by Lindy, Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava. It is unclear who will inherit the piece on her death, as there are no direct heirs of the 5th Marquess, or of Lindy herself. UPDATE– After the death of the last Marchioness, the Clandeboye Estate has become a foundation for conservation and education and it it quite likely that that Tiara will belong to that Foundation.
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