It’s royal tradition: the first time a woman dons a tiara is upon her wedding day–think of it like a coming of age crown that symbolizes their indoctrination into the monarchial world. As a result, each bride’s diadem has something of a dramatic debut at these pomp-and-circumstance ceremonies. After all, they’re sparkly, they’re grand, and they’re chock full of history. The internet was delighted, for example, when Princess Beatrice wore Queen Mary’s fringe tiara for her Windsor nuptials—the same one that her grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, and her aunt, Princess Anne, wore for their royal weddings decades ago.
Below, we revisit the best royal tiaras worn in recent history, from the Duchess of Cambridge’s Cartier Halo Tiara to Princess Margaret’s grand Poltimore tiara and Princess Diana’s ornate Spencer Tiara.Cartier Halo TiaraPhoto: Getty Images
Worn by: Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge
The Cartier Halo Tiara was first commissioned in 1936 by King George VI as a gift for his wife, Queen Elizabeth (later known as the Queen Mother). Purchased three weeks before George ascended to the throne after his brother, Edward’s, abdication, it’s made of 739 brilliant cut diamonds and 149 baguette diamonds.
She passed the Cartier Halo Tiara down to her daughter, the then-Princess Elizabeth, on her 18th birthday in 1944. The Queen never wore it publicly, but she lent it to her sister, Princess Margaret, and daughter, Princess Anne, in later years.
Yet the tiara had its moment to shine when Kate Middleton wore it for her royal wedding in April 2011, which was watched by millions across the world. It’s now one of the most recognizable royal tiaras in modern history.Queen Mary’s Bandeau TiaraPhoto: Getty Images
Worn by: Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex
Queen Mary’s Bandeau Tiara, which is composed of diamonds set in 11 sections with overlaced ovals, dates back to two different eras. The centerpiece brooch was made in 1893, and deemed so spectacular that, in 1932, they made a tiara to support it. The future Queen Mary wore it to her wedding to the future Prince George. Later, the bandeau and brooch were given to Queen Elizabeth in 1953. The Queen then lent it to her granddaughter-in-law, Meghan Markle, when she wed Prince Harry in 2018.Queen Mary’s Fringe TiaraPhoto: Getty Images
Worn by: Queen Elizabeth, Princess Anne, Princess Beatrice of York
Of any diadem on this list, Queen Mary’s Fringe Tiara has the richest connection to the Windsor women. In 1919, Queen Mary asked House of Garrard to turn a necklace of hers (given to her as a wedding gift from Queen Victoria), into a tiara. Garrard crafted a diadem of 47 tapered bars, influenced, shape-wise, by a traditional Russian kokoshnik.
It was passed down through generations of the family. In 1947, the then-Princess Elizabeth donned it for her wedding to Prince Philip. (Before she was due to walk down the aisle, it snapped. A court jeweler fixed it in the knick of time.)
Come 1973, the Queen lent the Fringe Tiara to her daughter, Princess Anne, for her Westminster Abbey nuptials to Mark Phillips. Fast forward almost 50 years, and the Queen extended the same courtesy to her granddaughter, Princess Beatrice.Greville Emerald Kokoshnik TiaraPhoto: Getty Images
Worn by: Princess Eugenie of York
The diamond and emerald headpiece worn by Princess Eugenie on her wedding day was made by French jeweler Boucherin in 1919. It originally belonged to British society figure Dame Margaret Greville (hence the diadem’s name). When Greville died, she left the emerald tiara to the Queen Mother, who then passed it on to her daughter, Queen Elizabeth. In 2018, she lent it to her granddaughter for her wedding to Jack Brooksbank.
Some design details? Made in the kokoshnik style, just like her sister’s Fringe tiara, the Greville Emerald Kokoshnik Tiara consists of pave diamonds set in platinum and six emeralds. (The central emerald, it’s said, is a whopping 93.7 carats.)Poltimore TiaraPrincess Margaret on her wedding day in May 1960, wearing the Poltimore Tiara. Photo: Getty Images
Worn by: Princess Margaret
Princess Margaret didn’t need her mother or her sister to lend her a tiara for her wedding day. No, she bought one herself.
Originally belonging to Lady Poltimore, the Poltimore Tiara was made in 1870 by the House of Garrard in a classic Victorian-era jewelry style. The Poltimores put it up for auction in January 1959, where Margaret bought it for 5,500 pounds. She then wore it to wed Anthony Armstrong-Jones.Spencer TiaraPhoto: Getty Images
Worn by: Princess Diana
It’s said that although Princess Diana was offered the Lover’s Knot Tiara by the Queen, she instead opted for her family’s own heirloom. Known as the Spencer Tiara, it dates back to 1919, and was worn by both of Diana’s sisters at their respective weddings.
In fact, she donned the diadem several more times as a royal, as she felt it was lighter than many of the Queen’s pieces.Anthemion TiaraPhoto: Getty Images
Worn by: Sophie, Countess of Wessex
Queen Elizabeth gave Sophie, Countess of Wessex, the Anthemion Tiara for her 1999 wedding to Prince Edward. She’s worn it frequently since. The name is an homage to Anthemion design, a technique used in ancient Greek times that features fanned petals.