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The most dazzling tiaras owned by the British royal family

From pearls to sapphires, these crown jewels are some of the late Queen Elizabeth's favourites.
british royal family tiaras

When we think royal, we instantly think of a tiara. It’s every little girl’s dream to one day walk into a ballroom, a silver headpiece made up of diamonds and rubies upon her head.

For the women in the British royal family, this dream is quite often their reality.

Queen Elizabeth II in particular, was a favourable collector of a dazzling diadem or two, and each one in her collection held one thing in common – they were tokens of love.

How many tiaras does the British royal family own?

It’s unknown exactly how many tiaras are in the official royal collection. However, there are definitely 12 popular choices making the rounds as they sit-upon the heads of multiple royal women over the last century.

What was Queen Elizabeth’s Favourite royal tiara?

The Queen was known for having many favourites, but one royal tiara in particular stood out. The Vladimir tiara dazzled on Queen Elizabeth’s head many times in all it’s magnificent glory. However, the crown jewel originally belonged to the Russian royal Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, so how did it make its way into the British royal family’s collection? Read on to find out.

circa 1926: Queen Mary wears The Lover’s Knot tiara.

The Lover’s Knot

This unique combination of pearls and diamonds was originally made for Queen Mary and is a replica of a tiara that belonged to her own grandmother. Queen Mary’s version used pearls from other jewellery as drops and uprights on the cresting, but these were later removed.

The Queen wore the tiara in the 1950s and then loaned it to Diana, Princess of Wales as a wedding gift. Diana chose to wear a family heirloom on her wedding day, but the tiara became a favourite in subsequent years and has since been worn by the Duchess of Cambridge on a number of occasions. 

Diana, Princess Of Wales wears The Lover’s Knot tiara, a gift from the Queen.

The Kokoshnik 

Dazzling and sitting up high and proud, the Kokoshnik tiara is a wall of 488 diamonds formed of 61 graduated bars catching light from all angles. It’s based on the traditional Russian girls’ headdress favoured by all the ladies of the Russian court and was a gift to Alexandra, Princess of Wales for her 25th wedding anniversary in 1888 from the Ladies of Society, a group of 365 UK peeresses.

Queen Elizabeth at a State Banquet wearing The Kokoshnik tiara.

Queen Mary inherited the fabulous tiara in 1925 and famously wore it for her official 80th birthday portrait. She bequeathed it to her granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II, in 1953. 

The Cartier Halo 

The Queen’s father – then Duke of York – commissioned this tiara from Cartier in 1936 for his wife. When she became Queen Elizabeth soon after, she preferred larger pieces and the tiara was given to their daughter, Princess Elizabeth, as an 18th birthday gift in 1944.

She in turn loaned it to her sister Princess Margaret and later her daughter Princess Anne, who both liked its delicate simplicity as young women. But it was in 2011 that the Halo tiara made its most prestigious outing, worn by Catherine Middleton at her wedding to Prince William. She teamed it with matching diamond earrings, a gift from her parents. 

2011: Princess Catherine on route to her wedding ceremony at Westminster Abbey wearing The Cartier Halo tiara.

The Meander 

The beautiful Greek Battenburg Meander tiara was made for Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark, the mother of Prince Philip, around the turn of the century.

Princess Anne Attending A Banquet At Guildhall As Part Of The Norwegian State Visit, London, wearing The Meander tiara.

It was gifted to Princess Elizabeth by her mother-in-law in 1947 but never worn by the woman who would become queen, who favoured grander pieces befitting her station. Elizabeth eventually gave it to her daughter Princess Anne, who’d already borrowed it a number of times; Anne in turn lent it to her own daughter, Zara Phillips, for her 2011 wedding to Mike Tindall. 

The Queen Mary Diamond Bandeau 

Meghan Markle was loaned the Queen Mary Diamond Bandeau for her May 2018 wedding day, having visited Buckingham Palace to choose a tiara for the occasion alongside the Queen. The central broach boasts 10 diamonds and was a gift to Mary of Teck from the County of Lincoln in 1893, with the diamond-and- platinum bandeau made specially to accommodate it in 1932.

It was bequeathed to Queen Elizabeth in 1953 and occasionally worn by her sister, Princess Margaret. 

2018: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex wears The Queen Mary Diamond Bandeau, following her wedding to Prince Harry.

The Greville Emerald Kokoshnik 

Princess Eugenie was loaned this timeless piece by her grandmother, the Queen, for her October 2018 wedding. It had been in the royal collection for 76 years, having been bequeathed to the family by socialite Dame Margaret Greville on her death in 1942.

The tiara was made by Boucheron, with the centre emerald a reported 93.70 carats. The Queen inherited the tiara, but Eugenie gave it its first public outing by a member of the Royal Family. 

2018: Princess Eugenie of York leaves St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle following her wedding, wearing The Greville Emerald Kokoshnik tiara.

The Belgian Sapphire 

This is a sentimental family favourite, with the Queen having created this distinctive tiara from a set of Victorian-era sapphires she was gifted by her father King George on her wedding day in 1947 (hence it’s also sometimes called the George VI Sapphire tiara). Playwright Noël Coward called the gems the largest sapphires he’d ever seen. As yet, the Queen is the only member of the royal family to have worn it. 

Queen Elizabeth II wearing The Belgian Sapphire for a banquet on board The Royal Yacht Britannia during her visit to France.

The Lotus Flower 

This beautiful 1920s diamond-and-pearl piece was created from a necklace Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother) received as a wedding gift from her husband, George. A bare six months later it was repurposed by Garrard as a tiara, and eventually worn by its owner in a series of portraits used to illustrate George VI’s coronation in 1937.

The Queen Mother wearing The Lotus Flower.

It was handed down to Elizabeth’s younger daughter, Princess Margaret, and in recent years the Duchess of Cambridge has worn the Egyptian-style tiara too. 

2022: Catherine, Princess of Wales wearing The Lotus Flower during a Diplomatic Corps reception at Buckingham Palace.

The Queen Mary Fringe 

Originally made for Queen Mary in 1919 by E. Wolff & Co. for Garrard’s, this beautiful diamond sparkler is best known for being worn by both Queen Elizabeth and her daughter Princess Anne on their wedding days.

It’s thus one of the most recognisable pieces in the Royal Family’s jewel box – but even so it’s frequently confused with the Queen Adelaide Fringe necklace, which was worn as a tiara by both Queen Victoria and Queen Mary, and the Surrey Fringe tiara.

It actually managed to break on the occasion of then-Princess Elizabeth’s wedding, but was stuck together again in time for the ceremony. “I think [they] taped up the spring,” said the Queen. 

royal tiaras

The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland 

The name says it all. This pretty diamond, silver and gold tiara was literally a gift from the girls of Great Britain and Ireland, purchased from the Garrard jewellery house with money raised by a committee for a wedding present for Princess Mary of Teck.

In her thank-you letter, the Princess said that the tiara “will ever be one of my most valued wedding gifts”. Incredibly, there were funds left over which were donated to widows and orphans of men lost in the accidental sinking of HMS Victoria in 1893 – a request made by the Princess.

royal tiaras

It originally included pearls around the top but was adapted in 1914 by Queen Mary, who later gave the tiara to Princess Elizabeth as a wedding present. As Queen, Her Majesty has worn the tiara many times throughout her reign and on banknotes throughout the Commonwealth. 

royal tiaras

The Vladimir 

Of all the dazzling royal tiaras, the Vladimir has to be one of the most magnificent. It was made for Russian royal Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, wife of Grand Duke Vladimir and aunt of Tsar Nicholas II. During the Russian Revolution it was smuggled out and eventually sold by her family to Queen Mary, who sent it for restoration.

It is a piece of exquisite craftsmanship, able to be worn in three ways: with pearls, with emeralds or without either, showing off its intertwining circles of diamonds.

royal tiaras

The emeralds had previously belonged to Indian royalty – but that’s another story! The Queen inherited the tiara in 1953 and it has become one of her favourite and most recognisable jewels, especially when worn with the Delhi Durbar emerald and diamond necklace. 

The Greville 

Another Margaret Greville bequest to the royals simply bears her name. The honeycomb-patterned Greville tiara was made for her in diamonds and platinum in 1921 by Lucien Hirtz, the chief designer for Boucheron in Paris – with the diamonds hailing from an older Boucheron tiara residing in her collection that Mrs Greville had broken up.

When she died, she gave it – along with the rest of her jewellery – to Queen Elizabeth. In 1953 it was remodelled by Cartier and became one of the royal’s favourite headpieces.

royal tiaras

The tiara then passed in 2002 to her daughter Queen Elizabeth II, who never wore it in public but has since loaned it to her daughter-in-law Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall – who enjoys wearing it regularly. 

royal tiaras

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