Today marks the centenary of the death of Princess Louise Margaret, Duchess of Connaught, a daughter-in-law of Queen Victoria, who died on this day in 1917. In her honour we will take a look at one of her most worn tiaras, which the Duchess wore to grand events throughout her life, and was also worn by her descendants. The Connaught Fringe Tiara’s current whereabouts are unknown.
Victoria, Duchess of Kent, the mother of Queen Victoria, was the first recorded owner of this diamond fringe tiara, which she left to her daughter upon her death in 1861. In 1879, Queen Victoria gave the fringe tiara as a wedding present to her daughter-in-law, Princess Louise Margaret of Prussia, when she married her third son, Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn. The new Duchess wore the fringe as a necklace on her wedding day, and at many royal events throughout her life. In 1902, she wore the Fringe Tiara at the Coronation of her brother-in-law, King Edward VII, when she added a few extra layers of diamonds at the base of the tiara. In 1907, the Duchess wore the Fringe Tiara in an official portrait. The Duke and Duchess of Connaught had three children, Princess Margaret (later Crown Princess of Sweden), Prince Arthur (later Governor General of South Africa), and Princess Patricia (later Lady Patricia Ramsay), and were the Governor General and Viceregal Consort of Canada from 1911 to 1916. The Duchess of Connaught died on this day in 1917 of influenza and bronchitis at Clarence House (now home of the Prince of Wales) at the age of 56. The Duke died in 1942. Through their eldest daughter, the Duke and Duchess are the great grandparents of King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, and Queen Anne Marie of Greece.
In her last will, the Duchess of Connaught, bequeathed “…all my property real and personal…to my son for his absolute use and benefit in the hope but without intending to create any trust that as regards certain articles of jewellery and furniture he will distribute them in accordance with a memorandum I shall leave for him.” Prince Arthur married Princess Alexandra, Duchess of Fife in her own right, in 1913, and it appears that inherited his mother’s Fringe Tiara at her death in 1917. The Duchess of Fife, probably wore it in an official portrait with her husband, Prince Arthur of Connaught, upon their appointment as Governor General and Viceregal Consort of South Africa. It might have also been worn in a hand-coloured picture and at the pre-wedding ball of her niece by marriage, Princess Ingrid of Sweden in 1935. (It is also thought the Duchess might have worn her own mother’s Fringe which we covered HERE).
In 1937, the Fringe Tiara was worn by Lady Patricia Ramsay, younger daughter of the Duchess of Connaught, at the Coronation of King George VI. She had probably borrowed the piece from her brother and sister-in-law, who wore the Fife Tiara. Prince Arthur died in 1938, and the Fringe Tiara went to his only son, who died in Canada during WWII. It is unknown what happened to the Connaught Fringe Tiara afterwards. Princess Arthur, Duchess of Fife divided her possessions between her heir and nephew, the 3rd Duke of Fife, only son of her sister, and her nephew by marriage, Alexander Ramsay of Mar, only son of Lady Patricia. If the tiara went to either of them, it wasn’t sold at the 1959 auction of the Duchess of Fife’s jewels, or the 1974 auction of Lady Patricia’s jewels, and might still belong to their heirs.
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