York Diamond Tiara

Happy Birthday to Sarah, Duchess of York, who turns 58 today! As a working member of the Royal Family for 10 years, she attended a variety of glittering occasions, always wearing this diamond tiara from Garrard, which was a wedding gift for the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh.

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The Duchess first wore her Tiara at the Wedding at Westminster Abbey. However, with a twist: upon arrival the Bride was wearing a wreath of flowers atop her veil, removing both while signing the register and revealing the Tiara underneath. The symbolism was that she wanted to enter the Abbey as a commoner and leave as a Duchess.

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Unlike today, in the 1980s, Royal Tours included a plethora of glittering occasions. The Royal Tour of Canada in 1987 included no less than three Tiara events.

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The Tiara was also worn to Banquets and Official Dinner at home and on other royal tours in the 1980s and 90s. After her Divorce in 1996, the Tiara remained with the Duchess.

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The last time the York Diamond Tiara was publicly seen was at Elton John’s 2001 White Tie and Tiara Ball. The Duchess reportedly keeps it in her bedside table, but it was not worn by Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie at their weddings.

In 2023, Princess Beatrice wore the Tiara at the spectacular Banquet to celebrate the Wedding of Crown Prince Al Hussein and Princess Rajwa at the Al Husseiniya Palace in Amman.


14 thoughts on “York Diamond Tiara

  1. A lot was made at the time of her marriage of the fact that she was given her own tiara to wear at her wedding instead of one from the royal vaults. I think there would have a case for complaining if she had been given an ugly or insignificant tiara. But this tiara is very pretty and quite substantial. It’s an all-diamond tiara so that she can wear it with multiple jewel combinations, such as pearls, rubies, or anything, really. Her former sister-in-law the Countess of Wessex was given a hideous concoction to wear at her wedding and at every royal event for many years after that. An heirloom, to be sure, but a very ugly one indeed. I think it was more than five years before she was given anything decent to wear! In light of the events that followed her marriage, the Duchess of York was actually very lucky to have been given her own tiara. And who knows, if all the rumors are true, she and Prince Andrew may quietly tie the knot again in a not too distant future and she may have more occasions to wear it again.

  2. It seems unfair to me that Diana wasn’t given a personal tiara from the Queen… all her life she only wore two tiaras and both were on loan😞

    1. Since it was expected that Diana would be Queen one day and have full access to the royal vault I don’t find it particularly upsetting. Even as Princess of Wales she had probably more choices available to her as the Duchess of York.

  3. You know, I don’t think there was any slight intended when the late PoW was not gifted a tiara at her wedding, because she wouldn’t need any. As the wife of the heir to the throne, she would have had access to everything in the vaults when he inherited!

    The British Royal family doesn’t have a jewel foundation like the Dutch or the Swedes do. I think other than the State Jewels (the crown, the scepter, etc), they personally own their jewels. In the past, it had been the custom for the monarch to gift jewels to the younger children precisely because they would not have that access. That’s how the current Duchesses of Gloucester and Kent came to have such magnificent jewels, mostly because Queen Mary and King George V made sure they provided jewels for their children. And that’s also how an heirloom sapphire coronet designed by Prince Albert almost left the UK and was miraculously bought and donated to the VA Museum just this year. (King George V had given it to his only daughter, Princess Mary, Princess Royal and the Countess of Harewood.)

    I guess that’s why I don’t think it’s done any more, this “giving” of jewels. They may end up on the auctioneer’s block! And then there’s the whole tax issue. TBH, and though it wasn’t an heirloom, I think Sarah’s tiara might have been the last one to be gifted.

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