Thursday, July 12, 2007

Royal Focus: The Spencer Family Tiara

Out of the almost 200 posts I've made on this blog, my article Jewels fit for a Queen is the most popular. In fact, anything on royal jewellery, particularly tiaras, seems to be a popular subject. Not a day goes by where someone doesn't find my site by searching for those terms.

Although worn by several Spencer women, this tiara is most associated with Diana, Princess of Wales. Worn most famously at her wedding in 1981 as her something borrowed. She also wore it all through her official life as a member of the royal family, for state banquets, openings of Parliament, and diplomatic receptions. Diana regarded this tiara as her 'spare', the other being the Lover's Knot Tiara, which she received as a wedding gift from the Queen.. Throughout the later part of her married life, she wore the Spencer tiara more often, taking pride in her Spencer heritage, and also because it wasn't as heavy as the Lover's Knot tiara.

Mounted in gold in the form of scrolling tulips and star shaped flowers, it is decorated with diamonds in silver settings. It has been reported that this tiara is a family heirloom from the eighteenth century, but this is a misconception. Instead, it is a composite of several elements. Of the entire tiara, only two elements at the end are old, and are said to have come from a tiara owned by Frances, Viscountess Montagu and left to Lady Sarah Spencer in 1875. The tiara is thought to have been made in 1767, but the style suggests the 1830s. The central element was a wedding gift from Lady Sarah Spencer to Cynthia, Viscountess Althorp (Diana's grandmother) in 1919. In the 20th century, it was remounted and four other elements were made to match it.

Along with Diana, some of the other brides to wear it on their wedding day include Diana's sister Lady Jane Fellowes in 1978, and Victoria Lockwood, the first wife of her brother Charles Spencer, in 1989.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

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.


Anonymous said...

I have always loved Diana's Lover's Knot Tiara which was a gift from the queen. But I have read that she had to give it back to the queen when she divorced Charles. Do you know why she would have had to give it back if it was a gift?

Marilyn Braun said...

The Lover's Knot tiara is my favorite too. Yes, it was a gift from the Queen and part of the royal collection of jewels.

Many of the jewels you see worn by the Queen have been in the family for generations and are heirloom pieces. Some are designated as Crown pieces to be worn by future Queen's and others are more personal. As a future Queen, Diana would have been gifted the Lovers Knot tiara with the intention that after her death it would go back to the collection.

I read, I think it was in Paul Burrell's tell-alls, that the royal family did not demand she return the tiara. Her brother however, did demand that Diana return the Spencer tiara.

After she divorced she really would not have had any need for a tiara though, so that could be another reason for her returning it too.

Tori V. Martinez said...

I, too, am in love with jewels, especially royal ones. The Spencer tiara made such an impassion on me as a young girl when I saw Diana marry in it. The tiara may not be an old family heirloom technically-speaking, but it definitely became an heirloom and historic piece thanks to the charming and wonderful woman who was Diana. Thank you, Marilyn, for writing about it.