Today marks the 30th Anniversary of the Death of Mary (Mollie), Duchess of Buccleuch and Queensberry, who passed away on this day in 1993! Married into one of Britain’s most illustrious and wealthiest noble families, the Duchess commended the spectacular jewellery collection of the Dukes of Buccleuch for almost four decades, which we are featuring today (after waiting to publish this article for over three years)!
But first, lets learn about the Duchess! Born Vreda Esther Mary Lascelles, the daughter of Major William Frank Lascelles, great-grandson of Henry Lascelles, 2nd Earl of Harewood, and Lady Sybil Evelyn de Vere Beauclerk, daughter of the 10th Duke of St Albans, she married the then Earl of Dalkeith, son of the 7th Duke of Buccleuch and Lady Margaret Bridgeman and brother of the Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, in 1921. The couple had three children: the Duchess of Northumberland, the 9th Duke of Buccleuch and 11th Duke of Queensberry, and Lady Gilmour, and after their accession to the Dukedom, resided between the family estates of Boughton House in Northamptonshire, Drumlanrig Castle in Dumfries and Galloway, and Bowhill in the Scottish Borders, and Eildon Hall. After rejecting Lady Ursula d’Abo, the Duchess tried to get her son and heir married to Princess Margaret, though he later married the model Jane McNeill . The Duchess mainly resided at Boughton, even after being widowed in 1973, where she passed away in 1993 at the age of 92, being buried among the ruins of Melrose Abbey.
Buccleuch Diamond Belt Tiara
Created in the 1840s, this spectacular Diamond Belt is the a versatile heirloom of the Dukes of Buccleuch, which can also be worn as a Tiara while elements can be taken apart to be used as brooches, like when the central element was worn by the 6th Duchess of Buccleuch, Mistress of the Robes to Queen Victoria, for the Wedding of Prince Carl of Denmark (later King Haakon VII of Norway) and Princess Maud of Wales in 1896, later adding a massive emerald for the Devonshire House Ball in 1897, and the Coronation of King Edward VII in 1902.
The Diamond Belt was worn by Mollie, the 8th Duchess of Buccleuch for portrait taken by Cecil Beaton in the 1930s with the Buccleuch Emerald Tiara.
The Duchess notably wore the Diamond Belt as a Tiara for the Coronation of King George VI and Queen Elisabeth at Westminster Abbey in 1937, when the Duchess served as a Train Bearer during the Queen’s Anointing Ceremony. The Duchess wore the family’s massive Diamond Riviere and another Diamond Necklace for the Ceremony, but was photographed supposedly leaving the Abbey or Buckingham Palace without any necklaces, just wearing the Diamond Belt Tiara.
Later that year, the Duchess of Buccleuch wore the Diamond Belt Tiara for a spectacular portrait on the cover of Tatler, when she also wore the massive Diamond Riviere, the other Diamond necklace across her bodice with a large diamond brooch on her shoulder, and large diamond drop earrings.
In 1953, the Duchess of Buccleuch wore the Diamond Belt Tiara with the Emerald Necklace at the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, when Sir Henry “Chips” Channon wrote “Mollie Buccleuch has no postilions – but five tiaras.” The Duchess also wore the Emerald Necklace and Earrings with the Belt Tiara for a portrait in the 1960s.
Last year, the Diamond Belt was among the Jewels on Display at the Sotheby’s Platinum Jubilee Exhibition: ‘Power & Image: Royal & Aristocratic Tiaras’, and while we were not allowed to share any images (and thus I cannot add my wonderful photo of the piece with its large diamonds and intricate design), it was my personal highlight among the dozens of spectacular Royal and Aristocratic Jewels on display.
Buccleuch Emerald Tiara and Parure
A spectacular Diamond Floral Tiara set with emeralds, with an accompanying emerald and diamond necklace, at least two pairs of earrings, several brooches, as well as a massive emerald which was set into the central element of the diamond belt. The Emerald Necklace and massive emerald stomacher, as well as several other emerald and diamond elements, were worn by the 6th Duchess of Buccleuch for the Devonshire House Ball in 1897, and she added the Tiara on a diamond base for the Coronation of King Edward VII in 1902.
Mollie, the 8th Duchess of Buccleuch wore the Emerald Tiara and Necklace with the Diamond Belt for portrait taken by Cecil Beaton in the 1930s, as well as for the State Openings of Parliament in 1938 and in 1958. The Duchess also wore the Emerald Necklace at the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.
In 1960, the Duchess lost an emerald brooch during Princess Margaret’s Wedding Ball, and while it is unknown if that was ever recovered, she wore the Emerald Necklace and Earrings with the Diamond Belt Tiara for a portrait in the 1960s.
Buccleuch Mayflower Tiara
A spectacular Diamond Flower Tiara featuring mayflowers and leaves, this piece was made into the 1870s and disassembles to form nine brooches, and seems to have been worn, along with a piece of the Diamond Belt, by the 6th Duchess of Buccleuch, Mistress of the Robes to Queen Victoria, for the Wedding of Prince Carl of Denmark (later King Haakon VII of Norway) and Princess Maud of Wales in 1896.
The Mayflower Tiara was most notably worn by Jane McNeill when she married the then Earl of Dalkeith at St. Giles’s Cathedral in Edinburgh in 1953, making a spectacular pairing with her Hardy Amies gown. The Countess of Dalkeith was also seen wearing the Tiara while talking with with Major Sir Edward Ford in 1958.
In 2014, it appears that the Mayflower Tiara was worn by Elizabeth Honor Cobbe when she married the current Earl of Dalkeith at Drumlanrig Castle, though there are few photos.
More recently, a few years ago, the Mayflower Tiara was on display at the Family Seat of Bowhill House, as part of their ‘Love and Respect in the Victorian Age’ Exhibit.
Buccleuch Turquoise Tiara and Parure
Mollie, Duchess of Buccleuch favoured the Turquoise Parure and notably wore it for a portrait in 1938, at a Ball with Princess Margaret in 1949, at a Gala in 1955, and also at the State Opening of Parliament in 1960.
The Turquoise Parure was also worn by other ladies in the family, like the Duchess’ sister-in-law, Lady George Scott, who wore the Parure for her Court Presentation at Buckingham Palace in 1939, and also by her daughter, Lady Caroline Scott, for the Auld Alliance Ball in Edinburgh in 1949, when she dressed as Mary, Queen of Scots.
Later, the Buccleuch Turquoise Tiara and Parure were worn by Jane, the then Countess of Dalkeith, and later the 9th Duchess of Buccleuch, for a Dinner at Britwell House, home of Lady Pamela and David Hicks, ahead of a Ball at Sutton Hoo.
Buccleuch Pearl and Diamond Tiara
A Belle Epoque Pearl and Diamond Tiara is composed of diamond swags topped with pearl clusters and upright pearl-shaped pearls, this Tiara was notably worn by Mollie, Duchess of Buccleuch when she presented her elder daughter, Lady Elizabeth, later the Duchess of Northumberland, during the 1939 London Season.
In 1946, the Pearl and Diamond Tiara were worn by the aforementioned Lady Elizabeth Montagu-Douglas-Scott when she married the 10th Duke of Northumberland at Westminster Abbey.
The Pearl and Diamond Tiara was also worn by her younger sister, Lady Caroline Montagu-Douglas-Scott, when she married the future Baron Gilmour of Craigmillar at Westminster Abbey in 1951.
The Tiara was also loaned to more extended members of the Family, like Henrietta Montagu-Douglas-Scott, a great-granddaughter of the 6th Duke, when she married Maj. John Griffin in 1964 and also Charmian Montagu-Douglas-Scott, a granddaughter of the 7th Duke, when she married Archie Stirling also in 1964.
Jane, the later 9th Duchess of Buccleuch also wore the Pearl and Diamond Tiara for a couple of occasions through the 1950s and 1960s, most notably during the Iraqi State Visit to Britain in 1956.
A huge credit to the wonderful Beth of History Famous Jewels for her wonderful research on the Buccleuch Jewels!