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 her Fringe Tiara-
For much of her life, Queen Victoria’s jewellery was either designed or gifted by Prince Albert or family, dignitaries and officials, which makes this piece quite unique in that it was commissioned by Queen Victoria herself in 1866. This diamond ‘Sunray’ Fringe Tiara was worn for her first State Opening of Parliament after the death of Prince Albert that year, and given it’s small size and light weight, it was worn in old age, after her other tiaras had been retired, most notably in her Diamond Jubilee Portraits. Queen Victoria also owned Queen Adelaide’s Fringe and a Fringe Tiara she inherited from her mother, the Duchess of Kent, which was given to her daughter-in-law, the Duchess of Connaught.
After Queen Victoria’s death, her Diamond Fringe Tiara, and her Strawberry Leaf Tiara, was inherited by her youngest daughter, Princess Beatrice, who put the Fringe Tiara on top of a small Diamond Meander Tiara that she owned, a configuration she notably wore to the Coronation of her brother, King Edward VII, in 1902 and the Coronation of her nephew, King George V, in 1911.
While it is unknown what became of Queen Victoria’s Fringe Tiara after Princess Beatrice, but the Meander Bandeau base was given to her only daughter, Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain, who wore it in a Lazlo Portrait in the 1920s (as did Princess Beatrice in 1912). The Meander Bandeau was often worn by her daughter, Infanta Beatriz, who married the Prince of Civitella-Cesi, but it is unknown what became of it after the 1930s, though it probably still belongs to the Torlonia family.