Catherine’s Jewellery: the Cartier Halo tiara

A beautiful headpiece worn by Kate on her wedding day

12 years ago, Prince William married Catherine Middleton at Westminster Abbey. There are a lot of important elements to a royal wedding and one of those is choosing the right tiara – so let’s take a look at the one Kate chose, the Cartier Halo tiara!

The tiara is almost 90 years old, having been created in 1936 by Cartier following a commission given to them by the Duke of York, only month before he became King; it was to be a gift for his wife.

Prince William marries Catherine Middleton at a wedding service in Westminster Abbey on 29th April 2011; she wears the Cartier Halo tiara

According to Hugh Roberts, the tiara was purchased on the 18th November, however the Queen Mother (as she would later be known) wore the tiara for the first time 14 days before that at a charity ball in Claridge’s Hotel.

The tiara features a total of 888 diamonds, a mixture of brilliant-cut and baguette. It currently lives in the royal vaults and is in the ownership of the Monarch, who can lend it out to members of the family if and when needed.

In the Royal Family, the Cartier Halo tiara might be considered a beginner tiara, worn by young Royals before their marriages. It’s small and does not induce headaches, unlike a lot of the medium/larger pieces – something Diana commented about the Lover’s Knot tiara.

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The Queen Mother wore the tiara a few times in public before she gifted it to her eldest daughter, Princess Elizabeth, on her 18th birthday. The Princess, who became Elizabeth II, would never wear the tiara in public. The most rumoured reason for why she never wore it public is the fact that Britain was in the middle of World War II at the time, with very little events to wear a tiara to – in addition to the feeling of splendour amongst the world of rationing.

Her younger sister, Princess Margaret, would be a frequent wearer of the tiara before she married. She was first seen wearing it in 1948, and famously wore it to her sister’s Coronation in 1953.

Another Royal who used the tiara before their marriage was Princess Anne, who wore it for her very first public tiara appearance at the State Opening of Parliament in 1967. However, once Anne moved on to other tiaras, the Halo tiara was not seen in public for decades.

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That was until, on 29th April 2011, Catherine Middleton stepped out of the Rolls Royce at Westminster Abbey and showed the world her wedding dress along with the Cartier Halo Tiara. While we don’t know why exactly the now Princess of Wales chose the tiara, it did match the earrings that were gifted to her by her parents.

It was quite a surprise to see Catherine wear the tiara, particularly as rumours were swirling at the time that she was in favour of a flower crown.

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Like other Royals, since her wedding day, we have not seen her wear the tiara. It has appeared in public in a number of exhibitions, such as the Royal Wedding exhibition at Buckingham Palace in 2011 and the Cartier exhibition in Canberra in 2018. Who knows when we will see it on another Royal head, but hopefully we won’t have to wait too long!

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