Well, the Queen opened her vaults and picked out a tiara to lend to Camilla, and what a tiara! The Delhi Durbar tiara has been seen only a handful of times: the Queen Mother wore it in 1947 during a tour of South Africa, and in 1998, it was displayed at Christie's in aid of charity.
The circlet was made by Garrards, especially for Queen Mary during the Delhi Durbar on December 12,1911 - hence its name. Durbar is Hindi, for a 'ceremonial gathering to pay homage'. The gathering was to install King George V and Queen Mary as Emperor and Empress of India. King George V admired this piece and referred to it as "May's best tiara".
It was originally worn with detachable emerald drops and at the Durbar, Queen Mary wore it over a crimson velvet cap. According to the book Tiara's A History of Splendor by Geoffrey Munn, it is designed as a:
'graduated frieze of lyres and forget-me-not leaves and flowers, emblematic of harmony and love, it once supported not only the Cambridge emeralds but also the third and fourth cleavings of the famous Cullinan diamond. The cushion shaped stone of 62 carats was secured by a wire at the highest point of the jewel and the drop-shaped stone weighing 92 carats hung in the oval aperture below.'
The Cullinan III and IV diamonds are known as the Lesser Stars of Africa, they are the most valuable items owned by the Queen, who refers to them as 'Granny's Chips'. These diamonds are no longer in the Delhi Durbar, but are now set in a brooch, whch is rarely worn by the Queen. Queen Mary's Delhi Durbar crown latterly belonged to the Queen Mother, but upon her death it went into the private collection of the Queen.
© Marilyn Braun
Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.
Tiaras - A History of Splendor by Geoffrey C. Munn
Tiaras Past and Present by Geoffrey C. Munn
Queens' Jewels by Vincent Meylan
The Royal Jewels by Suzy Menkes
The Queen's Jewels by Leslie Field
Photo of the Delhi Durbar tiara from: Tiaras - A History of Splendor by Geoffrey C. Munn
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