Kate Middleton knows just how to add that distinct regality to spruce up a stately ensemble – and it’s with the help of historic natural diamond tiaras pulled from the royal vaults.
Throughout her 12 years as a member of the royal family, Middleton has only worn a total of four diamond diadems over 16 head-turning tiara moments, consistently revisiting her tried and true pieces over her tenure as first, the Duchess of Cambridge and now, the Princess of Wales.
Since her wedding to Prince William in 2011, the princess has adorned a handful of historic aristocratic diamond headpieces previously adored and adorned by the likes of Mary of Teck, the Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Margaret, Princess Anne, Princess Diana, and more.
From the Cartier Halo Scroll Tiara and the Lotus Flower Tiara to her favorite, the Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara, and her most recent inclusion, the Strathmore Rose Tiara, Middleton’s impressive diamond tiara repertoire is steeped in rich royal history and sentimental significance.
On the Middleton’s 42nd birthday, OND is looking back on all of the Princess’ ornamental diamond tiaras.
The Cartier Halo Tiara
Middleton’s debut tiara moment packed a significant historical punch. When she married Prince William on April 29, 2011, at Westminster Abbey, Middleton adorned an Alexander McQueen bridal gown and topped off her wedding day ensemble with the Cartier Halo Scroll Tiara.
George VI originally commissioned Cartier to craft the demure diamond and platinum topper for his wife, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the (future) Queen Mother as a gift in 1936, just before her ascended the throne. She passed the heirloom down to her daughter, the soon-to-be Queen Elizabeth II on her 18th birthday in 1944 – many believe the Halo Scroll Tiara to be the first in the monarch’s expansive tiara collection.
Queen Elizabeth loaned the bride the headpiece to use as her traditional “something borrowed,” while Middleton’s parents had matching scroll and acorn diamond drop earrings commissioned for her “something new.”
With its dainty and delicate design, the Cartier Halo is considered a strong “starter tiara,” best fit for younger members of the family due to its smaller stature — the perfect choice for Middleton’s wedding day. Queen Elizabeth was known to loan the piece to her younger sister, Princess Margaret. The Princess wore the tiara on several occasions, including her sister’s coronation ceremony in 1953. Later, the diadem was borrowed by the Queen’s daughter, Princess Anne in her youth.
While we have yet to catch a glimpse of the Cartier tiara since Middleton’s 2011 nuptials, royal jewelry enthusiasts are eagerly awaiting the next time it is pulled out of the vaults.
The Lotus Flower Tiara
In December of 2022, Middleton attended the annual Diplomatic Reception held at Buckingham Palace alongside King Charles, Queen Consort Camilla, and her husband Prince William, where they welcomed over 500 Diplomatic Corps members to the palace’s State Rooms.
The princess adorned the seldom-seen Lotus Flower Tiara (also known as the Papyrus Tiara) for the esteemed event, teaming the look with dangling diamond earrings, previously owned by Queen Elizabeth, and a crimson red Jenny Packham long-sleeve beaded lace gown.
Middleton previously wore the sparkling Lotus Flower Tiara or the 2013 Diplomatic Reception at Buckingham Palace as her first post-wedding tiara, and again at the 2015 state banquet for Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The Queen Mother reportedly had the tiara made from a natural diamond and pearl Garrard necklace she received as a wedding gift in 1923 from her husband, the future King George VI. In her day, she would wear it low on her forehead, aligned with 1920s style.
The headpiece was eventually passed down to Queen Elizabeth’s sister, Princess Margaret in 1959, shortly before marrying Anthony Armstrong-Jones, the first Earl of Snowdon in 1960. The Princess was known to wear the dazzling tiara often.
Passing the Lotus Flower Tiara down to a third generation, Princess Margaret loaned the piece to her daughter-in-law, Serena Stanhope to wear at her 1993 wedding to Margaret’s son, Viscount Linley, according to The Court Jeweler.
The Lover’s Knot Tiara
Middleton last pulled out her most-used topper at the Diplomatic Reception at Buckingham Palace in early December 2023. Known for repeating her favorite ensembles, the royal graced the very same rose gold sequin Jenny Packham gown, and recycled both Queen Elizabeth’s Greville Diamond Chandelier Earrings, and of course, the pearl and diamond encrusted Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara she wore to the Jordanian royal wedding this last June.
The Princess first stepped out in the Lover’s Knot for the annual Diplomatic Reception at Buckingham Palace in 2015 and continuously chose the tiara for the occasion for the next four consecutive years, reviving the piece this year. Middleton has also adorned the Lover’s Knot for at least four State Banquets throughout the years.
Considering the tiara was inspired by the Duchess of Cambridge of generations past, it’s fitting that Middleton has adopted the diadem in honor of her first HRH title.
The tiara was commissioned by Queen Mary (Mary of Teck, Queen Elizabeth II’s paternal grandmother) in 1913 or 1914, crafted by the House of Garrard, the first official Crown Jeweler. Queen Mary requested the piece replicate that of a design owned by her maternal grandmother Princess Augusta of Hesse, the Duchess of Cambridge. Queen Mary provided one of her existing tiaras— the Ladies of England Tiara— and other diamond and pearl pieces from her jewelry box to use for the Lover’s Knot.
Consisting of 19 archways of brilliant and rose-cut diamonds, the headpiece is capped with a diamond ribbon “lover’s knot” bow motif, including 19 dangling drop-shaped pearls. Previously, the tiara included an extra 19 pearls that pointed upright from each diamond curvature. They’ve since been replaced with standalone round-cut diamonds.
After Queen Mary passed away in 1953, she left the tiara to her granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II. Her Royal Highness went on to wear the Lover’s Knot consistently throughout the 1950s, before shifting towards her more recent favorites like the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara. The Queen had the Lover’s Knot immortalized in portrait form in 1957, posing in the tiara for British painter Leonard Boden for the Royal Military Academy.
After marrying Prince Charles in 1981, Princess Diana received a treasure trove of royal family jewels from the Queen on permanent loan, including the Lover’s Knot Tiara as a wedding gift. One of Princess Diana’s favorite pieces of jewelry, the royal wore the Lover’s Knot so frequently, that it’s become synonymous with some of her most iconic style moments, including the state opening of Parliament and her white beaded Catherine Walker Elvis dress worn in Hong Kong in 1989.
The royal loved the Lover’s Knot so much, it’s been said that she suffered for beauty – the tiara allegedly hurt Lady Diana’s head and gave her headaches, due to its heavy and ornate nature. This, however, doesn’t seem to have deterred Middleton from often wearing the crown.
After Charles and Diana divorced, the tiara was returned to the royal family and put into a safe at Buckingham Palace. According to People, the tiara had not been seen since Diana’s death in 1997 until Middleton pulled it out of the vaults in 2015.
The Strathmore Rose Tiara
Catherine, the Princess of Wales surprised royal watchers everywhere this November when she arrived at Buckingham Palace for the official state visit of President of South Korea Yoon Suk Yeol and First Lady Kim Keon Hee wearing a tiara that had not been seen in nearly a century: The Strathmore Rose Tiara.
The piece is now the first new tiara Middleton has introduced to her repertoire since 2015 and the fourth tiara she’s publicly worn. She is only the second person ever to wear the Strathmore Rose.
The rare and delicate floral diamond headpiece was first given to the Queen Mother (born Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon) as a wedding gift by her father, Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne ahead of her nuptials to the Duke of York in 1923, originally purchased from London-based jewelers Catchpole & Williams.
Crafted to emulate a garland of wild roses, the sparkling diamond topper has two alternative frames – one to sit atop the head like a traditional tiara (as Kate has worn it) and another to wear the piece across the forehead, just above the brow line, in 1920s signature style (as the Queen Mother preferred to wear her tiaras). The elusive, 100-year-old piece can also be broken up into five separate brooches.