35 Photos of Queen Mary’s Most Iconic Tiara Moments

Queen Mary was a formidable woman in many respects. As consort to King George V, she helped him lead Britain through World War I and its aftermath, and was an invaluable aide and adviser to her husband throughout his 26-year reign. When he died in 1936, Mary remained a loyal protector of the monarchy for the rest of her life, serving as Queen Mother to King George VI until his own untimely death in 1952, and living long enough to witness her granddaughter Elizabeth’s accession to the throne (Mary died in March 1953, just ten weeks before the coronation).

She was also one hell of a jewelry collector. “No one can wear jewels as she can,” wrote Prince Christopher of Greece in his 1938 memoirs. “I think she could cover herself from head to foot with them and yet never look over laden as other women would do. On her they become only a part of her personality…”

Mary commissioned some of the royal family’s most iconic assets, from the Diamond Fringe Tiara worn by three generations of Windsor women on their wedding days, to the emerald choker so beloved by Princess Diana. She had an impeccable eye for Russian bijoux and loved an estate sale, which is how she got her hands on Grand Duchess Vladimir’s eponymous tiara, and pretty much the entire sapphire collection of Empress Marie Feodorovna. She received fabulous gifts, too, like the colossal 158-carat Cullinan III & IV diamond brooch—which the current monarch lovingly refers to as “Granny’s Chips.” And she kept a firm grip on her family’s jewelry legacy. When the Cambridge Emeralds, which were won at a charity raffle by her grandmother Princess Augusta, ended up in the hands of her brother’s mistress, Mary promptly intervened and retrieved them. Were it not for such quick thinking, the Windsor vaults would be devoid of such treasures as the Delhi Durbar suite, or even the emeralds that often replace the pearls on Queen Elizabeth’s favorite Vladimir Tiara.

To pay tribute to this most legendary of jewelry connoisseurs, we begin at the top: with her tiaras. Below, a brief compendium of Queen Mary’s diadems, from long lost beauties to enduring classics.

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Collingwood Fringe Tiara

Princess Mary of Teck was gifted several tiaras on the occasion of her 1893 wedding to Prince George, Duke of York (the future King George V), among them a convertible fringe necklace/tiara from her husband-to-be’s grandmother Queen Victoria, who purchased it from Collingwood and Co. Though Mary made the savvy choice in choosing it for her actual wedding day (pictured here), it wasn’t necessarily a favorite of hers. In 1919, she dismantled the piece to make her now-famous Diamond Fringe Tiara.

Boucheron Loop Tiara

Mary, Princess of Wales, commissioned Boucheron to create this tiara in 1902 using De Beers diamonds she had received the year before. In this photograph, she also wears the Love Trophy Collar, and below it the County of Surrey Necklace/Tiara (more on this piece below). The Boucheron Loop Tiara was dismantled in 1911 to create the Delhi Durbar Tiara.

County of Surrey Tiara

The County of Surrey Tiara (which could also be worn as a necklace, as seen above) was a wedding gift from the people of Surrey. Ever practical, Mary dismantled this piece as well in 1913, and used the diamonds in two new crowns: to construct the Honeysuckle Tiara and to replace the stones in another wedding gift, the Girls of Great Britain & Ireland Tiara.

Girls of Great Britain & Ireland Tiara

Another one of Mary’s wedding presents was this tiara, which was given to her by a committee of women led by Lady Eva Greville and known as the Girls of Great Britain & Ireland. Created by Garrard, the versatile diamond piece (its frame could be removed and worn as a necklace, its base could be worn as a bandeau, and it featured a much smaller frame so it could become a coronet) was originally topped with pearls, which Mary later replaced with the diamonds from the County of Surrey Tiara—the pearls, meanwhile, were incorporated into her Lover’s Knot Tiara (again, the queen of practicality at work). In 1947, she gave it to her granddaughter Elizabeth as a wedding present—it is still, to this day, one of Queen Elizabeth’s favorite crowns.

Girls of Great Britain & Ireland Tiara

The Duchess of York wore her Girls of Great Britain & Ireland Tiara in its coronet form for a costume party, for which she and the Duke of York dressed as the 3rd Earl of Cumberland and a lady at the court of Marguerite de Valois.

Iveagh Tiara

This kokoshnik-style piece was yet another wedding present, this time from Lord and Lady Iveagh, who were members of the Guinness family. Unlike most of her wedding tiaras, which were eventually dismantled or refashioned, Mary wore her Iveagh Tiara as is throughout the rest of her life. Upon her death in 1953, it went to her daughter-in-law Princess Alice, the Duchess of Gloucester, who then bequeathed it to her daughter-in-law Birgitte, the current Duchess of Gloucester, who still owns the heirloom today.

Crown of Queen Mary

While reigning monarchs inherit the Imperial State Crown (as seen on King George V, here, for his and Mary’s official coronation portrait in 1911), their consorts have special crowns made for their exclusive use. The tradition began with the reign of King William IV, whose wife Adelaide had her own coronation crown made rather than use Mary of Modena’s, as previous consorts had done. In 1911, Queen Mary commissioned Garrard for her specific Art Deco-inspired stunner, which was studded with 2,200 diamonds and featured the 105.6-carat Koh-i-Noor diamond, the 94.4-carat Cullinan III diamond, and the 63.6-carat Cullinan IV diamond. In 1914, the massive stones were removed and replaced with crystal versions (the two Cullinan diamonds are part of the famous diamond brooch that Queen Elizabeth calls “Granny’s Chips”) and the arches were made detachable so the crown could be worn as an open tiara.

Crown of Queen Mary

Another portrait of Queen Mary in her crown—here, she is also wearing the County of Surrey Tiara as a necklace.

Girls of Great Britain & Ireland Tiara

In this portrait, painted sometime between the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Princess Mary wears her beloved Girls of Great Britain & Ireland Tiara, along with the Ladies of England Tiara worn as a necklace, which was a wedding gift from the 650-member Ladies of England committee. That tiara was dismantled in 1913 to create the Lover’s Knot and Honeysuckle Tiaras.

Girls of Great Britain & Ireland Tiara

Queen Mary wears the Girls of Great Britain & Ireland Tiara again in this 1910 portrait by William Llewellyn.

Queen Adelaide’s Fringe Tiara

King William IV commissioned this diamond fringe necklace for his wife Adelaide in 1831, using stones that once belonged to his father King George III. When William died, the piece went to his niece and successor Queen Victoria, who reset it so it could also be worn as a tiara. The monarch designated the jewel an heirloom of the crown, and so it was subsequently bequeathed to Queen Alexandra, who wore it around her waist for her husband’s coronation, and to Mary, who preferred it on her head, as evidenced by this 1913 portrait. Six years later, she apparently tired of the Adelaide Fringe and had her own fringe tiara made.

George IV State Diadem

Created in 1820 for King George IV by Rundell & Bridge, this diadem is studded with diamonds weighing 320 carats, has two strings of pearls along its base, and features bouquets of roses, thistles, and shamrocks, representing England, Scotland, and Ireland. It has been worn by every queen and queen consort to coronations and State Openings of Parliament since Queen Adelaide.

George IV State Diadem

King George commissioned this state portrait of his wife in 1911, in which Queen Mary is depicted in her coronation robes, which she wears over a gown embroidered with the floral motifs of England, Scotland, and Ireland (roses, thistles, and shamrocks). She tops the look with the George IV State Diadem, while her own coronation crown rests on a table beside her.

Crown of Queen Mary

For the opening of her first Parliament, Queen Mary wore her namesake crown and accessorized with four Cullinan diamonds: the colossal Cullinan I & II diamonds, worn as a brooch pinned to her sash and the III & IV (“Granny’s Chips”) worn as a pendant.

Delhi Durbar Tiara

In 1911, an entire suite of jewels was commissioned with the Cambridge Emeralds for the Delhi Durbar, a celebration marking the coronation of Queen Mary and King George V as Empress and Emperor of India. Along with the emeralds, diamonds from Mary’s Boucheron Loop Tiara were recycled for the ornate tiara.

Delhi Durbar Tiara

The original Delhi Durbar tiara, as seen here, was accented with Cambridge Emerald toppers—in 1922, Mary had them removed so they could be used for her Vladimir Tiara. For this portrait she also wore the Delhi Durbar necklace and stomacher, and the Scroll Cambridge Emerald brooch.

Delhi Durbar Tiara

Ever a champion of versatility—and a show-stopping royal jewelry moment—Queen Mary occasionally incorporated her giant Cullinan III & IV diamonds into her Delhi Durbar Tiara.

Diamond Fringe Tiara

Seemingly displeased with Queen Adelaide’s Fringe Tiara, a designated heirloom of the crown, Queen Mary created her own, now-iconic Diamond Fringe Tiara in 1919, using the necklace/tiara wedding gift she received from Queen Victoria.

Lover’s Knot Tiara

Queen Mary is naturally the one to thank for the Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara that was such a favorite of Princess Diana (and now, Kate Middleton). Her inspiration for the design, which she commissioned from Garrard in 1913, came from a tiara owned by her grandmother Princess Augusta, the Duchess of Cambridge. The tiara features 38 drop-shaped pearls, 19 pearl pendants, and 19 upright pearls rising up as spikes, which could be removed.

Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara

In 1935, Queen Mary was photographed wearing the Lover’s Knot Tiara sans pearl toppers, which is how it has been worn in the modern era by Princess Diana and the Duchess of Cambridge.

Vladimir Tiara

Queen Mary bought the Vladimir Tiara in 1921 from the estate of the Grand Duchess Vladimir, a member of the Romanov dynasty who managed to smuggle her jewels out of Russia during the Bolshevik Revolution (this piece was made for her in the 1880s). The original featured pearl drops, as seen here, but Mary tweaked its design so the stones could be interchangeable—or removed completely for a more simple look.

Vladimir Tiara

Queen Mary is pictured again in the Vladimir Tiara, its pearls switched out for the Cambridge Emeralds. She also wears the emerald-studded Delhi Durbar suite: the necklace (with its pendants removed), stomacher, and brooch.

Cambridge Sapphire Parure

This Sapphire Parure was passed down from Queen Mary’s grandmother, Princess Augusta. Mary made adjustments to the jewels and later gifted the set to her daughter-in-law Princess Marina for her 1934 wedding to George, the Duke of Kent. It then went to their eldest son Edward, who had to sell parts of the set for financial reasons.

Crown of Queen Mary

Queen Mary, photographed in 1923, wearing her crown sans arches.

Diamond Fringe Tiara

A 1937 illustration of Mary from the Illustrated London News depicted the queen in her Diamond Fringe Tiara.

Queen Alexandra’s Kokoshnik Tiara

When her mother-in-law Queen Alexandra died in 1925, Queen Mary inherited her Kokoshnik Tiara, which the former consort had received as a wedding anniversary gift in 1888 from a group of aristocrats known as the Ladies of Society. Alexandra had requested the tiara be modeled after a Russian kokoshnik owned by her sister, Empress Marie Feodorovna.

Honeysuckle Tiara

Queen Mary commissioned Garrard to create this Honeysuckle Tiara in 1914 using diamonds from her dismantled County of Surrey and Ladies of England Tiaras. It was originally designed to accommodate either a Cullinan diamond or sapphire stone as its centerpiece.

Honeysuckle Tiara

Queen Mary was photographed in her Honeysuckle Tiara with its center Cullinan diamond swapped out for a sapphire stone (she also wore the sapphire and pearl choker she had purchased from the estate of Empress Marie Feodorovna). When she later gifted this heirloom to her daughter-in-law Princess Alice, she commissioned a new diamond centerpiece. Today, it can be worn with that diamond, an emerald, or kunzite, and belongs to Birgitte, the current Duchess of Gloucester.

Crown of Queen Mary

Queen Mary wore her namesake crown (and the Cullinan III & IV diamond brooch) to the coronation of her second son, King George VI, in 1937.

Crown of Queen Mary

A portrait of Queen Mary, in her crown and the robes she wore for George VI’s coronation.

Vladimir Tiara

A portrait of Queen Mary in 1936, the year she was widowed, wearing the pearl-strewn version of the Vladimir Tiara.

Diamond Bandeau Tiara

In 1932, Queen Mary commissioned a bandeau tiara to accommodate the diamond cluster brooch she received from the County of Lincoln as a wedding gift in 1893. It was stored in the Windsor vaults for decades after Queen Elizabeth inherited Mary’s jewels in 1953—until Meghan Markle borrowed the tiara for her 2018 wedding to Prince Harry.

Iveagh Tiara

Queen Mary attended the post-World War II reopening of the Royal Opera House in her Iveagh Tiara, one of the only wedding tiara gifts she kept unaltered and intact for the rest of her life.

Diamond Lozenge Tiara

Queen Mary debuted her new Diamond Lozenge Tiara in 1935, when she wore it to the premiere of The Ghost Goes West (next to her was her daughter-in-law Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent). The kokoshnik-style piece was set in a diamond lozenge pattern and topped with 13 pearl spikes. Mary later lent the tiara (sans pearls) to granddaughter Princess Margaret—it hasn’t been seen since.

Kent Diamond Bandeau Tiara

In 1925, Queen Mary bought a small diamond bandeau tiara from Garrard, which she occasionally wore topped with Cambridge Emeralds, as she did here for the film premiere of The Woman in the Hall in 1947. She left the piece to her daughter-in-law Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, who later gave it to her own daughter-in-law Katharine, the current Duchess of Kent, as a wedding present. It is now referred to as the Kent Diamond & Pearl Fringe Tiara as it’s believed that the duchess redesigned the piece, keeping its base and replacing the rest with diamond spikes topped with pearls.

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