Happy Birthday to Lady Glenconner, who celebrates her 90th Birthday today! The illustrious daughter of the 5th Earl of Leicester and Lady Elizabeth Yorke who grew up at the magnificent Holkham Hall, was a Maid-of-Honour at the Queen’s Coronation, married the eccentric Baron Glenconner who developed Mustique, later becoming Princess Margaret’s Lady-in-Waiting, and now a bestselling Author, Lady Glenconner has lived a varied life, often wearing spectacular jewels, which includes her versatile Tiara!
When Lady Anne Coke married the future Baron Glenconner in 1956, she wore the historic Coke Necklace (which featured in one of Lady Glenconner’s novels), but that and the Chaumet Leicester Tiara were inherited by her cousin, the next Earl of Leicester, and instead she received a three-strand pearl necklace from her parents, which was supplemented with a diamond clasp given by Lord Glenconner. However, the Barons Glenconner were extremely wealthy bankers, and while her Diamond Star Tiara may have been a Tenant Family Heirloom, like another Tiara worn in the 1960s, it is also possible that the Tiara is an antique piece acquired for Lady Glenconner. In her fourth book ‘Whatever Next?: Lessons From an Unexpected Life’, Lady Glenconner writes:
“Learning how to manage a tiara was rather fun. Colin bought me a wonderful one, designed with twelve large diamond stars that could also be worn separately as brooches. Once we had a ball and I wore the stars down my bodice like jewelled buttons. May wore the tiara on her wedding day to Anton and it looked simply stunning on her.”
Composed of seven Diamond Stars on a base of a large Diamond Rivière, this spectacular Diamond Tiara was notably worn by Lady Glenconner for a portrait taken in 1983, with other Maids of Honour. No doubt the Tiara was also worn when Lady Glenconner accompanied Princess Margaret on State Banquets and on Royal Tours, with a memorable story told of a visit to Swaziland:
“The tour to Swaziland, now eSwatini, in southern Africa was no exception.
There, Princess Margaret was to present King Sobhuza II with an order from the Queen in celebration of his eightieth birthday. In return for this honour, he had promised to build Princess Margaret a straw village for her stay. We did wonder how a straw village would be equipped with bathrooms, and imagined how funny Princess Margaret would look coming out of a straw hut wearing a tiara.”
She also wrote:
For formal occasions with Princess Margaret we would wear tiaras, which could be rather awkward and often had to be attached to hairpieces. Learning how to manage a tiara was rather fun.”
While Lady Glenconner was often photographed wearing another tiara in the 1960s, she was pictured wearing the Diamond Stars as Brooches as early as 1964, and continued to wear the Diamond Stars for a plethora of occasions though the 1970s and 80s, usually with a pair of grand diamond earrings, which were likely acquired by Lady Glenconner. She wrote:
Once we had a ball and I wore the stars down my bodice like jewelled buttons.
During her 30 years as the Lady-in-Waiting to Princess Margaret, Lady Glenconner was often photographed wearing the base of the tiara as a Diamond Rivière in the background of many photos of the Princess at official events.
In 2005, Lady Glenconner loaned the Diamond Star Tiara to her daughter, the Hon. May Tennant, for her wedding to Anton Creasy at Holkham Hall. In her autobiography, she wrote:
“I was delighted when, in 2005, May got engaged to Anton Creasy, a friend she and Amy had both known for years.
Eddy, the Earl of Leicester, very kindly insisted that the wedding should take place at St Withburga’s, with the reception in the state rooms at Holkham. I was really touched by this because Holkham was such a part of us all, and since I had got married there in 1956 I was so glad that my own daughter was able to do the same.
I helped with the flowers, just like my mother had done for me, and May wore my tiara and looked absolutely beautiful. Eddy gave a speech, and then Colin stood up and, without having prepared anything formal, spoke eloquently and affectionately, injecting his characteristic enthusiasm, ending the speech perfectly with a humorous toast.”
After Lord Glenconner’s death in 2010, it was revealed that he had left his entire fortune to his valet, with a deal being later struck with the family. Lady Glenconner’s grandson, the current Baron Glenconner, announced his engagement earlier this year, with the wedding set to take place at The Glen, the family seat of the Barons Glenconner, so lets hope the Tiara is worn by the next Lady Glenconner sometime soon!