Princess Diana’s ‘priceless’ wedding tiara on display for first time in decades

author: CNN’s Leah Dolan

For centuries, the crown’s all-powerful little sister, the tiara has come to represent more than just membership in the monarchy. It is closely related to the romantic idea of ​​the princess, a cultural shorthand for youth and femininity and status.From the plastic Cinderella tiara worn by millions of children who visit Disney theme parks each year, to the recent Met Gala – multiple celebritiesincluding Blake Lively, and even Anna Wintour herself, in the bejeweled version – Ancient accessories are still important today.

This summer, Sotheby’s will present some of the most influential tiaras in history in a new exhibition titled “Power and Image: Tiaras of the Royal and Nobles” — many of which the public hasn’t seen in decades. The event, which opened in London on 28 May, is a celebratory retrospective of 50 crowns dedicated to the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee – marking the 70th anniversary of the British monarch’s reign since 1952.

The Spencer Tiara is a Spencer family heirloom that became royalty after Princess Diana wore it on her wedding day in 1981.

The Spencer Tiara is a Spencer family heirloom that became royalty after Princess Diana wore it on her wedding day in 1981. cedit: Jasper Goff

The lineup included the Spencer Tiara, the famous tiara worn by Princess Diana at her wedding to Prince Charles at St Paul’s Cathedral – a royal union watched by more than 750 million people from 74 countries. A garland-style tiara with a heart in the centre and set with diamonds, lent to Sotheby’s London by Diana’s brother Lord Spencer, will be sold at auction since 1960, the auction shows. It was exhibited for the first time since the 1990s. Room. It was a must-have accessory for Diana, who reportedly wore the piece seven times between her marriage in 1981 and her death in 1997.

It was likely passed on to Diana by her grandmother, Lady Cynthia Hamilton, who received the tiara as a wedding gift in 1919. The heirloom is thought to have been first forged in 1767, where it may have looked different from the version worn by Diana on her wedding day. The fitting is believed to have been added and changed between 1919 and 1930, although no enhancements have been officially recorded. According to the auction house, many tiaras similar to the Spencer family started out as brooches or modest headbands — jewelers over the decades have expanded the piece by adding more gems.

According to Sotheby's, it is one of Queen Victoria's favourite tiaras, given to her by Prince Albert when she was 26.

According to Sotheby’s, it is one of Queen Victoria’s favourite tiaras, given to her by Prince Albert when she was 26. cedit: Sotheby’s

According to Kristian Spoforth, head of jewelry at Sotheby’s in London, it is truly invaluable. “It’s one of those (items) invaluable,” he said in a phone interview. “Given the public interest in Diana, there’s absolutely no way we could put a portrait on it. It’s one of the few items that you can say is priceless.”

In addition to the Spencer tiara, the exhibition will feature one of Queen Victoria’s favourite pieces – the emerald and diamond tiara given to her by Prince Albert when she was 26. Constructed in the Gothic Revival style, this piece consists of 19 oval emeralds weighing 15 carats.

“The Queen’s Jubilee celebrations provide us with a fantastic opportunity to publicly display a selection of tiaras from noble and royal sources,” Sporforth said in a press statement. “For us, it is also A wonderful moment in particular to learn about the dizzying craftsmanship that generations of primarily UK-based jewelers have provided over the centuries in the making of tiaras.”

Above: Princess Diana wearing the Spencer tiara in the carriage as she returned to Buckingham Palace after her wedding in 1981.