Happy Birthday to the Duchess of Northumberland, who turns 60 today! As the wife of the illustrious Duke of Northumberland, she is the chatelaine of the famous Alnwick Castle among a host of stately homes around the country, and is known for redeveloping the The Alnwick Garden. The Duchess is also the Lord Lieutenant of Northumberland. In honour of her birthday, we are taking a look at the Duchess of Northumberland’s Tiaras, none of which she has publicly worn.
Strawberry Leaf Coronet
Made of diamonds from a ceremonial sword present by King George IV to the 3rd Duke, the Northumberland Strawberry Leaf Coronet featured large strawberry leaf motifs rising from a diamond base. It was frequently worn by Helen Percy, the 8th Duchess of Northumberland, who was the Mistress of the Robes to the Queen Mother and frequently attended a host of glittering events. However, it was those events that proved fatal. In 1963, the Coronet was stolen when the Duchess’ car was ambushed outside her London home, after she had retrieved the piece from the bank. The Duchess of Devonshire wrote about the incident:
Even though Helen, Duchess of Northumberland, once had her tiara snatched off her head as she was leaving their house in Easton Square, we did not think of being mugged (the word did not exist).”
A wedding gift from the 6th Duke to his bride in 1845, the glittering Foliate Tiara can be broken down into 14 brooches and be worn as a necklace. While the 8th Duchess favoured the Coronet, her daughter-in-law, the 9th Duchess, frequently wore this tiara, most notably at Queen Charlotte’s Ball and the Queen’s Coronation (when she was heavily pregnant). Most recently, the Foliate Tiara was worn by Lady Melissa Percy at her wedding to Thomas van Straubenzee in 2013.
This Scroll Tiara of unknown provenance was worn by Lady Katie Percy at her 2011 wedding to Patrick Valentine. No other ladies have been photographed in this piece, before the wedding nor since.