Queen Mary’s Lover’s Knot Tiara

Tomorrow marks the 60th Anniversary of the Birth of the late Diana, Princess of Wales! We covered her Top 20 Jewels to mark the 20th Anniversary of her Death in 2017, and for the past few days leading up to this anniversary, we are featuring a few more pieces from the late Princess’ collection, ending our series with the splendid Queen Mary’s Lover’s Knot Tiara!

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60 Facts about Diana, Princess of Wales | Top 20 Jewels | Amethyst Suite | Aquamarine Ring | Emerald Earrings

In 1913, Queen Mary commissioned a Tiara featuring pear-shaped pearls suspended in a frame of Diamond Lover’s Knots, topped by more pear-shaped pearls taken from the Girls of Great Britain & Ireland Tiara, from E. Wolff & Co. for Garrard. The design was a copy of the Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara that belonged to Queen Mary’s grandmother, Princess Augusta, Duchess of Cambridge, and at that time belonged to her aunt,  Princess Augusta, Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. There are five or six identical Lover’s Knot Tiaras in existence, with the original Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara now belonging to the Princess von Waldburg zu Zeil und Trauchburg and the Bavarian Lover’s Knot Tiara for the Queen of Bavaria and still with the Bavarian Royal Family, while the others are in private collections or have disappeared.

Queen Mary notably wore her Lover’s Knot Tiara for a variety of portraits, including a series taken in 1926 and a portrait by Arthur Trevethin Nowell in 1927, as well as a Concert at the Royal Albert Hall in 1934, usually pairing it with strings of pearls and also her 11-row Pearl Choker. By 1934, Queen Mary had removed the upper pear-shaped pearls, and retained the piece through her widowhood, but doesn’t appear to have been pictured in the piece.

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After Queen Mary’s death in 1953, the Lover’s Knot Tiara was inherited by her granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II. It was one of four Tiaras, alongside the Girls of Great Britain & Ireland Tiara, the Vladimir Tiara, and Queen Alexandra’s Kokoshnik Tiara, taken with her later that year, on her legendary 6-month Commonwealth Tour, and worn it for a plethora of occasions, including the Opening of the New South Wales Parliament, a State Reception at the City Hall in Hobart, and a Ball in Malta.

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While never a favourite like her three main tiaras, the Queen wore Queen Mary’s Lover’s Knot Tiara for a variety of occasions through the 1950s and the 1960s, including Sir Winston Churchill’s Farewell Dinner in 1955, a Dinner at the Williamsburg Inn during a visit to the United States in 1957, the Royal Film Premiere of Dunkirk in 1958, a Gala Performance in Victoria on a visit to Canada in 1959, on a visit to India in 1961, and the Royal Variety Performance in 1967, which was the last public appearance of the Lover’s Knot Tiara on the Queen.

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In 1981, Queen Mary’s Lover’s Knot Tiara was among a series of wedding gifts the Queen gave to her daughter-in-law, the Princess of Wales, as lifelong loans, for the the entirety of her tenure, she alternated between the Lover’s Knot and the Spencer Tiara from her own family. The first notable public appearance of the Tiara came at State Opening of Parliament in 1981, and it was also worn the following year for a Return Banquet at Hampton Court Palace during the Dutch State Visit to Britain.

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The Princess used to complain that the Lover’s Knot Tiara was too heavy, too headache-inducing, and even too noisy due to the swinging pear-shaped pearls, but it made a few appearences on the Prince and Princess of Wales’ visit to Australia and New Zealand in 1983, and also on their visit to  Canada later that year, though the Spencer Tiara was worn for the majority of banquets.

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The Princess of Wales took the Lover’s Knot Tiara for foreign trips, notably wearing the Tiara for a Gala Performance at the La Scala Opera House in Milan during a visit to Italy in 1985, a Dinner at the British Ambassador’s Residence in Washington later that year, and a Banquet during a visit to Canada in 1986. In those days it was common to have two or more Banquets during State Visits, and the Princess alternated between the Lover’s Knot Tiara and the Spencer Tiara, with no preference, like when she wore the Spanish State Banquet at Windsor Castle in 1986, and also for the Saudi Return Banquet at Claridge’s Hotel in 1987, while wearing the Spencer Tiara for the Return banquet and State Banquet respectively.

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Later in the 80s and early 1990s, the Princess preferred to take only the Spencer Tiara on Official Visits, but the Lover’s Knot Tiara made notable appearences in Hong Kong in 1989, Brazil in 1991, and the Enthronement of Emperor Akihito of Japan in 1990. There were also numerous appearences at the annual Diplomatic Reception, but we only ever got a glimpse of the Diplomatic Reception at Buckingham Palace in 1991. The Princess wore the Lover’s Knot Tiara for the last time at the Malaysian State Banquet in 1993, during her seperation, and did not attend any Banquets after that. As a lifelong loan, the Princess retained the Lover’s Knot Tiara after her divorce in 1996, but it returned to the Queen’s collection following her death a year later.

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After remaining in the vault for over two decades, and years of speculation, Queen Mary’s Lover’s Knot Tiara was worn by the Duchess of Cambridge at the Diplomatic Reception in 2015, footage from which we only got a few months later in a documentary for the Queen’s 90th Birthday. That year, the Palace released an unprecedented group photograph of Royal Family at the Diplomatic Reception, featuring a better look at the Duchess wearing the Tiara, when it was paired with the Queen’s Antique Diamond Earrings. The Duchess of Cambridge paired the Tiara with the Greville Ruby and Diamond Floral Bandeau Necklace (a combination favoured by the Queen) and Princess Diana’s Collingwood Pearl Earrings (often worn with the Tiara) for the Spanish State Banquet, but we only got a glimpse from the 2017 Diplomatic Reception.

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In 2018, the Duchess of Cambridge paired the Lover’s Tiara with Queen Alexandra’s Wedding Necklace for the Dutch State Banquet, and got some lovely pictures from that year’s Diplomatic Reception at Buckingham Palace. The following year, the Duchess wore the Queen Mother’s Sapphire Fringe Earrings with the Tiara for the American State Banquet and with the Nizam of Hyderabad Necklace for that year’s Diplomatic Reception at Buckingham Palace, which was the Tiara’s last public appearance to date. There is no doubt we will continue to see this iconic Heirloom for years to come!

60 Facts about Diana, Princess of WalesPrincess Diana’s Top 20 Jewels | Amethyst Suite | Aquamarine Ring | Emerald Earrings

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