Queen Elizabeth II is said to have one of the largest collections of jewelry in private ownership, which has been added over successive generations of royalty to reflect the longevity of the monarchy.
The tiara occupies a special place in the collection of royal jewelry. Perhaps more than any other piece of jewelery available to the queen other than a crown, the tiara is the most powerful symbol of royal status, worn for state and special occasions.
Rarely, the Queen lends some of her most prized jewelry to members of her family. Unlike some of the European monarchies whose jewels are held in a trust or fund, the Queen’s private jewels remain under her control and are loaned out at her discretion. Tiaras are very rarely lent on the occasion of a royal wedding or a state banquet.
From her iconic Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara to her lesser-known, but no less spectacular, Brazilian aquamarine tiara, the Queen has some of the world’s grandest and most sparkling tiaras in her possession.
Right here, Newsweek examines just ten of the British monarch’s most sparkling head ornaments.
Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara
The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara is so called because it was paid for by members of this group as a wedding present for the Queen’s grandmother, Queen Mary.
Mary was an avid jewelry collector and constantly remodeled and adapted her pieces throughout her life. This tiara had an added base and could be worn either as a closed circlet or an open tiara.
In 1947 Mary gave the tiara to her granddaughter Elizabeth as a wedding present and since then it has been worn more times than any of her other tiaras.
Queen Alexandra’s Kokoshnik Tiara
Queen Alexandra, wife of Queen Victoria’s eldest son, Edward VII, received a large diadem of diamond bars arranged in the Russian kokoshnik style in 1888 by 365 peers as a silver wedding anniversary gift.
Alexandra was known for her very fashionable taste and the tiara echoed that owned by her sister, Empress Maria Feodorovna of Russia, mother of the last Tsar, Nicholas II.
Alexandra bequeathed the tiara to her daughter-in-law, Queen Mary, from whom Elizabeth II inherited it after her death in 1953.
Tiara of Grand Duchess Vladimir
Grand Duchess Vladimir of Russia was, at the time of the Russian Revolution, one of the wealthiest members of the Imperial Royal Family, with a huge collection of jewelry.
When she had to flee Saint Petersburg during the revolution, she left her huge collection of jewelry hidden in a safe which was later smuggled out of the country in two crystal stone bags by a British diplomat.
The Grand Duchess died before she found the jewels and her daughter, Princess Nicholas of Greece, decided to sell some of the pieces in the 1920s. Queen Mary was an enthusiastic buyer of the Grand Duchess’s most famous tiara, made by Bolin in the form of diamond loops with swinging pearls.
Mary had the tiara modified to accommodate swinging emerald pendants which were interchangeable with pearl ones and when she died in 1953 the piece was inherited by her granddaughter Elizabeth II.
Queen Mary’s Diamond and Pearl Lover’s Knot Tiara
Queen Mary had a diamond and pearl lover’s knot tiara made in the 1920s to replicate a much older piece belonging to her beloved aunt, the Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Born a British princess, the daughter of George III’s son, Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge, the Grand Duchess’s piece of jewelery was known as the Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara.
Mary’s modern version was made with older stones from her collection and has become one of her most worn pieces in recent years.
Elizabeth II inherited the tiara in 1953 and wore it a few times during the early years of her reign. It became most closely associated with Princess Diana, to whom the tiara was lent during her marriage to Prince Charles.
The piece is now worn by Kate Middleton at state banquets and diplomatic receptions.
Queen Mary Fringed Tiara
Queen Mary owned a number of fringed tiaras, but the one that rose to prominence was made in 1913 from a diamond necklace given to her as a wedding gift by Queen Victoria.
In 1947, Mary lent this tiara to her granddaughter Elizabeth to wear at her wedding to Prince Philip. As the bride was about to leave for Westminster Abbey, the tiara broke on its frame and the diamond tips came off. The crown jeweler was sent in to make a quick repair and all was well by the time the vows were taken.
The Queen lent the tiara to her daughter Princess Anne for her wedding in 1973 and also to her granddaughter Princess Beatrice for her wedding in 2020.
There are few tiaras in the Queen’s collection that she bought or had made for herself, but one is a sapphire and diamond example that was originally a necklace .
The Queen added the tiara to her collection in the 1960s and it is believed to have a provenance dating back to a 19th century Belgian princess.
The Queen wears the tiara with a suite of sapphire and diamond jewelry that her father gave her as a gift during his lifetime. These jewels date back to the time of Queen Victoria.
Aquamarine Brazilian Tiara
In 1953, the people of Brazil donated diamond and aquamarine jewelry to Queen Elizabeth II to mark her coronation. During the early years of her reign, more aquamarines and diamonds were given on special occasions such as state visits and eventually the queen asked the crown jewelers to adapt some of between them to form a large modern tiara.
One of the most impressive tiaras in terms of design, the piece has become a favorite of the Queen over the past decades, having been worn on many important state occasions.
Burmese ruby diadem
Another piece the Queen commissioned herself, the Burmese Ruby Tiara was made in the 1970s from an older tiara given to the Queen as a wedding gift in 1947.
The new tiara was done in a pink design and features rubies and diamonds. The tiara is one of the most modern pieces in the Queen’s collection and was made by Garrard.
Cartier Halo Tiara
Cartier’s halo tiara was given to Elizabeth II as an eighteenth birthday present by her parents.
The coin was originally purchased by George VI as a birthday present for his wife Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother) in 1936.
The Queen has not been photographed publicly wearing the tiara, but in the 1950s she lent it to her sister, Princess Margaret, and in 2011 he lent it to Kate Middleton to wear on her wedding day.
Headband of Queen Mary
Queen Mary kept abreast of modern jewelry fashions and in 1932 had a special modern bandeau tiara made to accommodate a large center diamond brooch presented to her by Lincoln County in 1893 as a wedding gift.
Mary wore the tiara throughout the 1930s and also lent it to her glamorous daughter-in-law, Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent.
The Queen inherited the tiara in 1953 and it was only seen again in 2018 when it appeared on Meghan Markle’s head when she married Prince Harry at St George’s Chapel, Windsor.