On 29 July 1981, when Lady Diana Spencer stepped out of her carriage at St Paul’s Cathedral for her marriage to Prince Charles, her magnificent wedding veil was held in place by a glittering vintage tiara worthy of any new Princess.
Lady Diana was a member of the Spencer Family, one of the oldest aristocratic families in England who can trace their history back to the Norman Conquest of 1066. Like most members of the British Upper Class, the Spencers have several tiaras at their disposal.
This particular tiara was constructed in the 1930s by the Crown Jeweller, Garrad. Made up of different family heirlooms dating back to the 1870s, the headpiece eventually consisted of stylised diamond flowers, foliage and a heart shaped central element, all set in silver and gold.
Lady Cynthia Spencer (Diana’s Grandmother) was the first to wear the tiara although very few images exist, this rare image is of Lady Cynthia wearing the jewel in 1951.
Lady Cynthia was a Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother and can be seen here in the background wearing the The Spencer Tiara for banquet in 1956
Lady Cynthia’s son Charles, Viscount Althorp was Princess Diana’s father and all three of his daughters chose to wear the family tiara for their wedding day. Lady Jane Spencer (now Jane Fellowes) wore it first in 1978 and Lady Sarah (now Sarah McCorquadale) wore it again in 1980.
But the Tiara became truly iconic when Lady Diana Spencer wore it for her wedding to Charles, Prince of Wales on 29th July 1981.
As the future Queen, Diana was required to wear a Tiara to many formal and international events. Despite being gifted the Cambridge Lovers Knot Tiara, some have suggested that she preferred the Spencer as it is lighter and easier to wear.
After her separation from Prince Charles in 1992, Diana wore her family’s tiara in public for the last time at a reception for the King and Queen of Malaysia in 1993.
With her death in 1997, the Spencer family decided to put the family tiara on display in an exhibition commemorating Diana’s life.
As the tiara is still in the possession of the Spencer family, it is still worn by its female members.
In 2018, Celia McCorquodale, (daughter of Diana’s sister Lady Sarah) chose to wear it when she married George Woodhouse in Stoke Rochford, Lincolnshire.
The fourth series of the popular Netflix drama ‘The Crown’ portrays a young Princess Diana and her early experiences within the Royal Family.
In Episode Three ‘Fairytale’, we see the actress Emma Corrin wearing a (slightly exaggerated) replica of the Spencer Tiara.