This month, we are marking the Bicentenary of the Birth of Queen Victoria by featuring her Top 20 Jewels, one for each decade since the Birth of 2nd-longest reigning British Monarch, in the 20 days leading up to the Anniversary itself, and today’s feature is Queen Adelaide’s Fringe, which has also been called the Hanoverian Fringe-
Commissioned by King William IV for Queen Adelaide, using diamonds that belonged to King George III and Queen Charlotte, from Rundell & Bridge in 1831, and is described as “sixty brilliant-set graduated bars, the central bars in cushion-cut and pear-shaped stones, divided by 60 graduated brilliant-set spikes; an extra six small graduated bars and five spikes detached; tiara fittings removed” by Sir Hugh Roberts, former Director of the Royal Collection, in his book ‘The Queen’s Diamonds’. The Diamond Fringe was illustrated being worn as a necklace by Queen Adelaide in a couple of portraits.
The Diamond Fringe was given to Queen Victoria in 1837, upon her accession to the Throne, and worn as a Tiara that November for a Gala Performance. continued to wear the fringe during the early decades of her reign. The Tiaras was also notably worn in Winterhalter’s ‘The First of May 1851’, and the opening of Prince Albert’s Great Exhibition. Most of the current jewels in the Queen’s possession do not predate Queen Victoria, as earlier jewels were claimed and given to the King of Hanover in 1858, which this Fringe somehow managed to escape, making the Fringe one of the oldest pieces in the Queen’s collection. In later years, Queen Victoria usually wore the Hanoverian Fringe as an ornament to embellish her necklines, most notably for her Diamond Jubilee Portraits, though she also wrote about the piece as a necklace in her famous journals.
Queen Adelaide’s Fringe was designated an heirloom of the Crown upon Queen Victoria’s death in 1901, and was worn by her daughter-in-law, Queen Alexandra, wore the Hanoverian Fringe at the waist of her gown for her Coronation at Westminster Abbey in 1902.
Her successor, Queen Mary, set the Hanoverian Fringe on a Tiara frame and wore it for a couple of portraits taken in the years before the First World War. However, Queen Mary had her own Fringe Tiara made in 1919, which was later worn by the Queen at her wedding in 1947, and has been confused with Queen Adelaide’s Fringe for decades, even by the Palace.
Queen Adelaide’s Fringe, came into the possession of Queen Elisabeth after the accession of King George VI in 1936, when it was transformed back into a necklace by Garrard, who added a “concealed snap” to the fringe. The Queen Mother, as she is better known, kept the Hanoverian Fringe up until her death in 2002, but notably wore it during the 1950s; for a series of Dorothy Wilding portraits, at a Banquet at Columbia University, at a Dinner in Australia, and also once with Queen Mary’s Fringe Tiara. Queen Adelaide’s Fringe was inherited by the Queen, but as she already has Queen Mary’s Fringe Tiara as a Tiara option and her own rarely worn City of London Fringe Necklace, the historic Hanoverian Fringe has yet to be worn in public.