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The sight of a 20 year old Princess Diana emerging from a royal carriage in 1981, wearing her family’s Spencer Tiara and wedding gown is one which continues to captivate to this day. Over four decades following that special occasion, her royal wedding tiara is set to return to public view as part of a larger exhibition.
The free exhibition, titled ‘Power & Image: Royal & Aristocratic Tiaras,’ will feature over forty historic and royal tiaras – including Princess Diana’s. Held at Sotheby’s London between May 28 – June 15, it explores the evolution of tiara design over the years as it was influenced by changing monarchs, art and various historical shifts.
Princess Diana’s wedding tiara is one of the highlights of the show, which is part of a larger programme promoting Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee.
The Spencer tiara is believed to have been crafted in 1767, with Sotheby’s experts stating various design elements were added to it over the years; including by Garrard in the 1930s. Now, the diadem’s design features trailing scrolls, florals and hearts which intertwine in a romantic diamond setting. Both Princess Diana and her two sisters, Lady Jane and Lady Sarah, wore the tiara on their wedding days.
The tiara has not been worn by a member of the Royal Family since Princess Diana’s passing, as it is not a part of the royal collection and is instead the property of the Spencer family.
More recently however, Princess Diana’s niece Celia McCorquodale wore the tiara for the first time in decades at her own wedding in 2018. Sotheby’s also added the tiara will eventually be inherited by Princess Diana’s granddaughter, Princess Charlotte.
Other notable tiaras which feature in the exhibition include Queen Victoria’s 1945 emerald and diamond diadem, topped by nineteen pear-shaped emeralds and numerous diamonds. Crafted by jeweller Joseph Kitching, it was purchased at the time for £1,150 and designed by Prince Albert.
Standout pieces also include the Westminster Halo Tiara, which has previously been worn by celebrities including Alice Cooper, a striking Cartier waveform tiara as well as modern creations by Christopher Thomas-Royds.