With all the drawbacks of royal life, there is one benefit of it all that we wouldn’t mind exercising: donning ornate tiaras to stately occasions.
While we can never forget Princess Diana of Wales’ iconic tiara moments, her daughter-in-law is certainly doing the family jewels justice.
Since her time as a royal began over a decade ago, Kate Middleton has definitely proved her good taste in jewels with her display of tiaras.
But despite having access to the royal vault, the Princess of Wales has only ever worn just three signature tiaras owned by the British royal family; the Lotus Flower tiara, the Cartier Halo tiara, and, her favourite, the Queen Mary’s Lover’s Knot tiara. This is likely because once a royal wears a tiara, it is effectively loaned to that person for life.
For the full guide to the three pieces Kate Middleton wears on repeat, or just to ogle at them, read on.
The Cartier Halo Tiara
On the day she officially became the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton wore her very first tiara.
Striking the perfect balance of refined elegance, the royal chose the Cartier Halo tiara for her royal wedding to Prince William on April 29, 2011, at Westminster Abbey.
Originally made in 1936, the Cartier Halo was a commission from King George VI for his wife Elizabeth (The Queen Mother) before he ascended to throne. Elizabeth was only pictured wearing it once before she became Queen, eventually gifting the diadem to her eldest daughter, Princess Elizabeth (eventually. Queen Elizabeth II) on her 18th birthday. However, she never wore the tiara publicly.
Instead, it was often worn by Princess Margaret, Elizabeth II’s sister. She even wore the tiara to Elizabeth II’s coronation, back in 1953.
This platinum tiara features 739 brilliant-cut diamonds, along with 149 baguette-cut diamonds. The pretty wave-like shapes on the headpiece are described as scroll motifs, and the tiara has been reported to give off a halo of light effect, giving it its name.
It is often referred to as a ‘beginner tiara’, for its lighter weight and smaller profile, making it more comfortable to wear and also less of a statement. In this light, it was a great first-choice for Middleton, a so-called ‘commoner’ at the time, when she made her official ascension into royal-life at her wedding.
As a wedding gift, Kate’s parents had jeweller Robinson Pelham make a custom pair of earrings made to match the tiara which featured an acorn and oak leaf—symbols from the Middleton family’s coat of arms.
Despite this, however, Kate’s 2011 wedding has been the only time she has ever worn the Cartier Halo tiara—at least that the public know of, anyway.
The Lotus Flower Tiara
The Princess’ first post-wedding tiara moment came in December of 2013, when she attended the annual Diplomatic Corps reception at Buckingham Palace sporting the Lotus Flower tiara.
Boasting pearls and diamonds to boot, the headpiece was originally a necklace that Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother) received as a wedding gift from her husband, the future King George VI, in 1923.
Just six months after first receiving the Garrard necklace from her husband, she took the piece to the jeweller to have it dismantled and transformed into the stunning piece it is today. Eventually, in 1959, the tiara was passed on to Princess Margaret, who wore it on numerous occasions before loaning it to her daughter-in-law, Serena Stanhope, for her wedding to Margaret’s son, David Armstrong-Jones.
After Princess Margaret’s death in 2002, the tiara presumably returned to the royal family’s collection, where it wasn’t seen again until the Kate dusted it off in 2013. Recently, in December of 2022, Middleton broke it out again for another Diplomatic Reception.
Queen Mary’s (Cambridge) Lover’s Knot Tiara
And lastly, her favourite—the crowning glory, if you will—is the Queen Mary’s Lover’s Knot tiara. Having first worn it to the annual Diplomatic Corps reception in 2015, the Princess has since worn it more than any other headpiece—and its clear to see why.
With 19 lover’s knot arches, 38 drop-shaped pearls, 19 of which swing from the arches, the piece is a serious show-stopper.
While it’s been in the family for decades, the tiara itself is a replica of the ‘Cambridge Lover’s Knot’, and is often referred to as such.
The original, which was sold to a private collector at auction at Christie’s in May of 1981 for more than $747,000 (worth around $2.4 million in today’s currency), was made in 1818 for Princess Augusta of Hesse. Her daughter, Queen Mary, loved it so much that she had a replica made in 1913. Nineteen of the upright pearls atop the headpiece were eventually removed.
Since then, the tiara has been passed around until it eventually landed with Princess Diana, who frequently wore it throughout her royal life in the ’80s despite rumours that its weight caused her to have painful headaches.
After her divorce from Prince Charles in 1996, four years after they had separated, the tiara was handed back to The Queen.
It was a natural choice for Kate, who was the Duchess of Cambridge upon her wedding, and also a lovely nod to her late mother-in-law Diana.