Queen Elizabeth II's tiaras and the sparkling stories behind them

Queen Elizabeth II’s diadems, tiaras and crowns: A look at 5 royal headdresses and their histories

Queen Elizabeth II wore many crown jewels throughout her 70-year reign.

The British monarch, who died on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2022, is believed to have owned a tiara collection made up of some 50 headdresses, according to the New York Post.

Here's a look at five famous pieces the queen wore in public over the years, according to the Royal Collection Trust, a museum and manager of public openings of official royal residences.

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The historic pieces include one diadem, three tiaras and one crown.

Queen Elizabeth II's state funeral will be held Sept. 19 at Westminster Abbey.  (Alastair Grant - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

The Diamond Diadem (1820)

The Diamond Diadem was one of many royal headdresses that Queen Elizabeth II donned during her reign, and she wore it when she traveled to and from the State Opening of Parliament, according to the Royal Collection Trust.

Made in 1820 by Rundell Bridge & Rundell, a London-based jewelry firm, the Diamond Diadem is an Openwork silver frame lined with gold. 

It’s decorated with 1,333 diamonds, pearls and four crosses pattées that reportedly represent the national emblems of the U.K. — England, Scotland and Ireland — as the museum wrote in an item summary under The Queen’s Coronation 1953 webpage. 

The front cross of the Diamond Diadem features a yellow diamond.

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"The diadem has been regularly worn (and slightly modified) by queens regnant and consort from Queen Adelaide onwards," the royal museum said. 

"This feminine association belies its origin, since it was made for George IV's use at his famously extravagant coronation in 1821."

Historians at the Royal Collection believe the diadem was a "discarded plan for George IV's Imperial State Crown" and it might have been traded in "a discreet barter of old stones from George IV's extensive collection," since there's no evidence that the king purchased the stones outright.

On May 27, 2015, Queen Elizabeth II wore the Diamond Diadem made for King George IV by Rundell, Bridge and Rundell in 1820. She wore the diadem while she traveled down The Mall in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach after attending the State Opening of Parliament, in London, England. (Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

Under normal circumstances, the stones adorning the diadem "have been returned to Rundells after the coronation," but the Royal Collection Trust said the headpiece’s diamond sprays, crosses and transparent setting appear to be undisturbed.

Vladimir Tiara (circa 1874)

Queen Elizabeth’s tiara collection included the Vladimir Tiara, a platinum and gold tiara adorned with diamonds, interchangeable drop pendant pearls and emeralds, which once belonged to Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia, according to the Royal Collection Trust.

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Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia was the wife of Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich and the paternal first cousin to Queen Elizabeth II’s husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

Queen Elizabeth II's Vladimir Tiara was displayed at Buckingham Palace on July 25, 2006, in London, in celebration of the Queen's 80th birthday. (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

The designer of the tiara is currently unknown, but the Royal Collection Trust believes C.E. Bolin, a Russian jewelry house in St. Petersburg, made the Vladimir Tiara.

That's because "it consists of intersecting circles set with brilliant diamonds, each hung with a claw-set pendant pearl," according to an item summary under the museum’s Russia, Royalty & the Romanovs webpage.

The Vladimir Tiara was smuggled out of Russia after the assassination of Tsar Nicholas II and the Russian royal family, various news outlets have reported.

Queen Elizabeth II donned the Vladimir Tiara during an official overseas tour of Germany in late May 1978. (Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

"The Vladimir Tiara had originally belonged to the wife of the Tsar’s uncle, the glamorous Grand Duchess Vladimir of Russia, who died in France 1920 having been the last Romanov to escape Russia," said a report from The Crown Chronicles. 

It's an historical news source that routinely covers the British royal family.

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Queen Mary's Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara (1893)

Queen Elizabeth II inherited an E. Wolff & Co. tiara known as the "Girls of Great Britain and Ireland." 

It's a diamond-encrusted, silver- and gold-set tiara, from her grandmother, Queen Mary, according to the Royal Collection Trust.  

The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland, a British women’s committee, reportedly presented the tiara to Queen Mary in 1893, who was the Duchess of York at the time. 

The gift served as a wedding present. 

Queen Mary gave the tiara to Queen Elizabeth II (then Princess Elizabeth) in November 1947 to celebrate Elizabeth’s marriage to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

Queen Elizabeth II smiles during a royal tour of Paris on June 10, 1992. She wore a silver-embroidered white crepe evening gown designed by Ian Thomas and Queen Mary's Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara. (Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

"[Queen Elizabeth II] has worn the tiara regularly throughout her reign and is depicted wearing it on certain issues of British and Commonwealth banknotes and coinage," the Royal Collection Trust wrote in an item summary under the Diamonds: A Jubilee Celebration webpage.

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Queen Elizabeth II's Halo Tiara (1936)

Queen Elizabeth II inherited the Halo Tiara, a luxury headpiece designed by Cartier, which has 16 graduated scrolls, 739 brilliant gemstones and 149 baton diamonds, according to the Royal Collection Trust.

"Each scroll divided by a graduated brilliant and with a large brilliant at the [center]; original red leather box, with later Garrardj label," the museum wrote in an item summary under The Queen's Coronation 1953 webpage.

The Halo Tiara lent by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was put on display during a Cartier: The Exhibition Media Preview at the National Gallery of Australia on March 28, 2018, in Canberra, Australia. (Cole Bennetts/Getty Images)

The tiara was created in the summer of 1936 and was purchased by Queen Elizabeth II’s father, King George VI, who was the Duke of York at the time, according to The Court Jeweller — a historical jewelry blog run by Jeopardy champion Lauren Kiehna. 

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King George VI reportedly gifted the Halo Tiara to his wife, Queen Elizabeth (AKA Queen Mother), and she later gifted the tiara to Queen Elizabeth II (then Princess Elizabeth) in 1944 for her 18th birthday.

Catherine, Princess of Wales (formerly Kate, Duchess of Cambridge), wore Queen Elizabeth's 1936 Cartier Halo Tiara on her wedding day, April 29, 2011. Queen Elizabeth II lent the tiara to Kate, who married the monarch's grandson, William, Prince of Wales (formerly Duke of Cambridge). (CARL DE SOUZA/AFP via Getty Images)

Other British royals have donned the tiara for special events, including Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon (Queen Elizabeth II’s sister), Anne, Princess Royal (Queen Elizabeth II’s daughter), and Catherine, Princess of Wales (Kate Middleton), according to The Court Jeweller. 

The Imperial State Crown (1937)

The Imperial State Crown was crafted in 1937 by Garrard and Company, a London-based luxury fine jewelry house, for Queen Elizabeth II’s father, King George VI, according to the Tower of London — a historical royal palace and museum. 

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It was specially made for King George’s coronation. 

The crown is reportedly made from gold and is set with 2,868 diamonds, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds, 269 pearls and four rubies.

"The crown contains some of the most famous jewels in the collection," the Tower of London wrote in a guide to the royal family’s crown jewels. 

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"These include the Black Prince's Ruby, the Stuart Sapphire and the Cullinan II diamond," the guide continued. 

On Nov. 15, 2006, Queen Elizabeth ll wore the Imperial State Crown at the State Opening of Parliament in London, England. (Pool/Anwar Hussein Collection/Getty Images)

"St Edward’s Sapphire, set in the [center] of the topmost cross, is said to have been worn in a ring by St Edward the Confessor and discovered in his tomb in 1163."

The Imperial State Crown was passed down to Queen Elizabeth II for her 1953 coronation. 

It was resized for the Queen by Phil Goodship and Peter Williment, two jewelers from Garrard Workshops, according to the Royal Collection Trust.

She wore the Imperial State Crown at her coronation while she left Westminster Abbey and during other formal occasions, including the annual State Opening of Parliament.