August 31st will mark the 20th Anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, one of the most iconic women of the last century. In honour of her death anniversary, we are featuring 20 of her most iconic jewels. Today’s feature is the Spencer Tiara-
Formed of different pieces, the center element was a wedding gift to Cynthia, Viscountess Althorp from Lady Sarah Spencer in 1919. The oldest pieces of the tiara are at the ends, said to have come from a tiara once belonging to Frances, Viscountess Montagu who left the pieces to Lady Sarah in 1875. Four matching pieces from Garrards were added on in 1937 to create the tiara as we see today.
While Cynthia, Countess Spencer (grandmother of Diana) was frequently pictured wearing the other Spencer (Honeysuckle) Tiara, she was only pictured once in this Spencer Tiara, at a Banquet in 1956.
After her death, the first person to be pictured in this Spencer Tiara was on Lady Jane Spencer (elder sister of Diana) when she married Robert Fellows in 1978 in London.
The next person to be seen wearing the Spencer Tiara was Lady Sarah Spencer (eldest sister of Diana and a former girlfriend of the Prince of Wales) at her wedding to Neil McCorquedale in 1980.
However, the most famous appearance of the Spencer Tiara came a year later, when Lady Diana Spencer wore the Spencer Tiara to marry the Prince of Wales at St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Unlike her sisters, Princess Diana continued to wear the Spencer Tiara frequently after her wedding, as an alternative to Queen Mary’s Lover’s Knot Tiara. The tiara was worn for banquets, state dinners, royal tours, and many iconic portraits, on loan to the Princess of Wales from her father.
In 1989, Victoria Lockwood wore the Spencer Tiara to marry Viscount Althorp (heir to the Spencer Earldom and brother of Diana) at the Althrop Church.
Princess Diana continued to borrow the Spencer Tiara, wearing it on her last Official tour with the Prince of Wales, to South Korea in 1992, and her last Banquet, in 1993, which was the last time the Tiara was publicly worn. After her death, the Spencer Tiara was displayed in the travelling Diana exhibition, and now resides back in the Spencer vaults at Althrop. The current Earl has five daughters, and I have no doubt that we will see the Spencer Tiara very soon.
UPDATE- In June 2018, Celia McCorquodale, daughter of Lady Sarah McCorquodale, wore the Spencer Tiara at her Wedding to George Woodhouse at St Andrew and St Mary’s Church in Stoke Rochford, Lincolnshire.
The Tiara is currently on display at ‘Power & Image: Royal & Aristocratic Tiaras’ at Sotheby’s in London