Happy Birthday to Virginia Ogilvy, Countess of Airlie, who turns 86 today! The American-born wife of the Earl of Airlie, the Chancellor of the Order of the Thistle and the former Lord Chamberlain to the Queen Mother, the Countess has been the Queen’s Lady of the Bedchamber since 1973, and is also the sister-in-law of Princess Alexandra of Kent. She recently regained attention for giving the American President a strong handshake, so to mark her birthday, we are taking a look at the heirloom Airlie Tiara, not the same as her sister-in-law’s Ogilvy Tiara!
Featuring pearls and diamonds set in a victorian frame, the Airlie Tiara was first pictured on Mabell, Countess of Airlie, the grandmother of the present Earl and a lifelong friend and Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Mary, the grandmother of the present Queen. The Countess notably wore the Airlie Tiara in a portrait, with an added base, which can be worn as a bracelet or as a tiara in its own right, and also wore the piece at a Gala Performance for the French President in 1939, right before the outbreak of the Second World War.
While the Airlie Tiara wasn’t pictured on the following Countess, she might have worn it for her son’s Wedding Ball at Windsor Castle in 1963, the piece was frequently seen when another Countess, Virginia, became the Queen’s Lady-in-Waiting in 1973, and can be seen in the background of many Official Photos.
In her capacity as the Queen’s Lady of the Bedchamber, the Countess of Airlie has also attended countless State Openings of Parliament, from 1974 to 2012, always wearing the Airlie Tiara.
More frequently, the Countess of Airlie wears the Airlie Tiara for State Banquets and Gala Receptions at Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace, where she is hard to find, but can be spotted. It appears that none of her daughters or daughters-in-law have been pictured wearing the Airlie Tiara, but we wish the Countess many more years of health, so that she may wear the piece for years to come.