Grafton Tiara

Happy Birthday to the Duchess of Grafton, who turns 98 today! As the Queen’s Lady-in-Waiting for 66 years, and Mistress of the Robes for over 50 years, the Duchess has been witness to a plethora of glittering occasions, often wearing this glittering borrowed tiara, whose feature has been almost two years in the making.

(Despite the fact that this Tiara never belonged to the Duchess of Grafton, I have termed it the Grafton Tiara, because she was it’s longest wearer)

The tiara first belonged to Gertrude, Baroness Denman, also known as Trudie, a women’s rights activist, whose husband served as the fifth Governor-General of Australia. After wearing it during her tenure as Viceregal Consort of Australia, she loaned the Tiara to her friend, Eugenie ‘Queenie’, Lady Wavell, when her husband became the second last Viceroy of India. While Lady Denman was not pictured int he piece, Lady Wavell wore the tiara for a portrait by Cecil Beaton in 1944. The then Earl of Euston, husband of the Duchess, was an Aide-de-camp to Lord Wavell. (Thank you to the Hon. Mrs Hugo Grimston for this information)

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While she wore another tiara for a set of portraits taken before, this tiara was worn by the Duchess at the Queen’s 1953 Coronation at Westminster Abbey, when the then Countess of Euston led the Ladies-in-Waiting behind the Queen during the procession. The tiara was borrowed from her sister-in-law, who was a grand daughter of Lady Denman. (h/t to Beth on RJWMB)

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In the 1950s and 60s, the Tiara was not frequently photographed as the Duchess was not the leading Lady-in-Waiting and did not attend as many glittering events as the Mistress of the Robes, the Duchess of Devonshire. However, she can be seen in the background of a number of pictures, often in this Tiara.

After becoming the Mistress of the Robes in 1966, State Banquets were a guaranteed place to catch a glimpse of the Grafton Tiara. The Duchess was a part of processions and usually had a high place at the table.

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The Tiara was seen on various Official Tours and State Visits around the world, including State visits to France, the Vatican, and Morocco. It was almost always paired with a diamond riviere, diamond chandelier earrings, and a multi-gem brooch.

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The Tiara was also worn to countless State Openings of Parliament, when the Duchess followed the Queen and stood beside the Throne during the Queen’s Speech. The last appearance was at the State Opening in 2003, which is around the time the Duchess retired from many duties.

However, the tiara has not disappeared, and was inherited by her niece, the Countess of Verulam, who loaned it to her daughter-in-law, Viscountess Grimston, born Lady Rossanagh Innes-Kerr, for the Royal Caledonian Ball.

In 2008, the Grafton Tiara was loaned to Gallia McDermott, when she married the Hon. Hugo Grimston, younger son of the Earl and Countess of Verulam.  The Duchess of Grafton (the Dowager Duchess since 2012) may have stopped wearing tiaras, but through these new wearers, we are sure that the Tiara will be seen for many years to come.

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