Three tiaras once in the Royal Family are to go on display from Friday at Kensington Palace, as part of an updated exhibition on Queen Victoria. Her dazzling diamond and emerald tiara and the Fife tiara will be joined by a kokoshnik piece, and other royal jewels, too.
Prince Albert designed the diamond and emerald piece for his wife; he gifted it to her in 1845 and she wrote of his ‘wonderful taste, and her joy that she could wear such a “lovely Diadem of diamonds and emeralds designed by my beloved Albert”.
It was made by The Queen’s Jeweller, Joseph Kitching, and is set with cushion-shaped diamonds and step-cut emeralds in a band at the bottom; above this is a graduated row of 19 inverted pear-shaped emeralds, the largest of which weighs 15 carats.
Some readers may recognise the tiara: a replica was created for use in ITV’s ‘Victoria’ series.
The emerald and diamond diadem is to feature in the updated ‘Victoria Revealed’ exhibition from Friday 30th March, alongside the rest of the parure, including a necklace (formed of nine oval emerald clusters), earrings and a brooch, with a huge 20ct emerald.
Queen Victoria would select these gems for her sitting with portrait artists, Winterhalter, who created an intimate painting of the Royal Family in 1846, as well as for her son’s christening (when she paired them with the lace from her wedding dress), and again for a striking Winterhalter portrait of 1859, which depicts the pieces in stunning detail. You can see the Queen wearing the set here.
If you remember, last year we reported on another of Victoria’s tiaras – a sapphire and diamond diadem – was saved at auction and will be displayed at the V&A.
The Fife tiara will also be on show. Noted for its simple beauty, the Fife tiara first belonged to Princess Louise of Wales, who was Edward VII’s eldest daughter.
Louise married the Earl of Fife in 1889 and this tiara was amongst her wedding gifts, likely from her new husband; the Earl was created Duke of Fife shortly after his wedding.
It comprises hundreds of diamonds ranging in weight from one to ten carats, and features a spectacular row of pear shaped ‘swing set’ diamonds – they hang and so are loose enough to swish with the wearer. Parisian jeweller Oscar Massin is responsible for the tiara.
Lady Alexandra, Princess Louise’s daughter, inherited both the Fife dukedom (after Queen Victoria intervened, following the a stillborn son) as well as the goods, er – we mean the tiara. Alexandra wore it for George VI’s coronation, as well as that of The Queen in 1953.
It was due to go on sale at Sotheby’s when the government declared the 200-carat piece culturally significant; it was therefore accepted by the British Government in place of inheritance tax to the tune of £1.4 million.
Composed of nearly 200 carats of diamonds, this majestic tiara was given to Queen Victoria’s granddaughter Princess Louise as a wedding gift. See the Fife tiara as part of #VictoriaRevealed at #KensingtonPalace from 30 March. Book now: https://t.co/boaM3v73Hj pic.twitter.com/0SuQVTg7V1
— HistoricRoyalPalaces (@HRP_palaces) March 28, 2018
Now, Historic Royal Palaces – the charity responsible for the upkeep of the Tower of London, Hampton Court, and more recently, Hillsborough Castle (amongst others) – is to be the safekeeper of the Fife tiara, with its new home at Kensington Palace.
Another of Princess Louise’s tiaras – a kokoshnik-style piece – will also be on display for visitors. This was a gift from her parents, the Prince and Princess of Wales (later King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra), and was a dual-purpose piece. It can be worn as a tiara or converted into a necklace, and it became one of Louise’s favourite pieces of jewellery.
In this photo, Louise wears both the Fife tiara and the tiara/necklace from her parents.
Embed from Getty Images
Queen Victoria’s diamond and emerald parure and the kokosnhik tiara are, however, on long-term loan from the estate of the 3rd Duke of Fife.
The Queen has a similar tiara to this that she favours, having worn a kokoshnik tiara on her wedding day in 1947.
Kensington Palace is open year-round; get tickets here.