Today marks the 25th Anniversary of the Death of Lavinia Fitzalan-Howard, the 16th Duchess of Norfolk, who died on this day in 1995! The daughter of the 3rd Baron Belper and the Countess of Rosebery, she married the 16th Duke of Norfolk, the Earl Marshal and premier Duke in England, in 1937, and had four daughters, three of whom became the Lady Herries of Terregles. The Duchess was involved with many charities and sporting interests, becoming the Lord Lieutenant of West Sussex and the first non-royal Lady Companion of the Order of the Garter. To mark the Anniversary, we are taking a look at her Pearl and Diamond Tiara.
Featuring Diamond Palmette motifs topped by Pearls, the Tiara was likely a Family Heirloom but does not seem to have been photographed before being worn by the 16th Duchess in the early 1950s, notably pictured at a Gala at Covent Garden, the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 (which was organised by the Duke and had the Duchess acting as the Queen’s stand-in during rehearsals), and a Givenchy Fashion Show at The Dorchester in 1955. The Duchess probably also wore the Tiara at the earlier Coronation of King George VI in 1937 (also organised by the Duke in his role as Hereditary Earl Marshal), when the Duchess was one of four duchesses who held the canopy above the Queen during her anointing. The Tiara was also worn to numerous State Openings of Parliament, where the Duke again had a central role.
After the Duke’s death in 1975, the Dukedom passed to a distant cousin, but the couple’s eldest daughter inherited the Scottish Lordship of Herries of Terregles, until her death in 2014, when the title was inherited by her younger sister, Lady Mary Mumford, who became the 15th Lady Herries of Terregles. Lady Herries was a Lady-in-Waiting to Princess Alexandra of Kent since 1964, attending many grand banquets (particularly being mentioned during the Polish State Banquet at Windsor Castle in 1991), and was notably pictured wearing the Duchess of Norfolk’s Tiara arriving at the Singapore State Banquet at Buckingham Palace in 2014. After Lady Herries’ death in 2017, the Lordship was inherited by her younger sister, the Marchioness of Lothian, who probably inherited the Tiara as well. Lady Lothian’s heir is her elder daughter, Lady Clare Hurd, who cannot inherit the Marquessate, but will probably inherit the Tiara alongside the Lordship. Let’s hope this magnificent Heirloom makes another reappearance soon!
The Tiara is currently on display at ‘Power & Image: Royal & Aristocratic Tiaras’ at Sotheby’s in London