Meghan Markle stunned as a royal bride when she married Prince Harry last year. Alongside the royal wedding dress, the tiara for the big day was the subject of much speculation before the now Duchess of Sussex walked down the aisle. After the big day, sources suggested that Meghan had had her “heart set” on a dramatic emerald tiara – the Vladimir Kokoshnik.
It was the centre of much controversy when it was reported that the Queen intervened, after Harry declared “what Meghan wants, Meghan gets”.
The Sun reported that the Queen told her grandson: “She gets what tiara she’s given by me.”
A look back at royal weddings over the decades reveals that royal brides traditionally wear less complex tiara designs that do not feature coloured jewels.
The Duchess of Sussex and Queen Elizabeth II
Princess Margaret and Queen Elizabeth II’s wedding tiaras
Even Princess Margaret’s imposing Poltimore tiara, which she wore on her wedding day with her trademark beehive, was made entirely from white diamonds.
In comparison, the huge Vladimir Kokoshnik with its seven pendant emeralds, which move with the wearer’s head movement, might have been viewed as inappropriate for a royal bride.
The only bride in recent years to wear a coloured gemstone for her wedding is Princess Eugenie, who wore an emerald in her tiara.
Diana wore the Spencer family tiara and Fergie wore the York tiara
However, as a less-senior royal, Eugenie will get far fewer occasions in the future at which she will have to wear tiaras.
Traditionally, royal women appear to graduate to larger, more elaborate tiaras with coloured gemstones when they have been married for some time.
The Duchess of Cambridge, for example, has gone on to wear the famous Cambridge Lover’s Knot tiara, which features pendant pearls, on two state occasions in 2015 and 2016.
Kate, who rarely wears tiaras, delighted royal fans again this year when she wore the stunning piece for the state banquet to honour the visiting US President Donald Trump.
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Both Sophie and Kate wore delicate diamond scrolls
Another royal source just after the Sussex’s wedding suggested there had been concerns over the provenance of the tiara.
Although the history of the Vladimir tiara is certainly dramatic, its provenance is in fact known.
The beautiful “kokoshnik” style tiara, which comes form traditional Russian dress, was made in Russia in the late 19th century for Duchess Marie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin when she married Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich, the third son of Alexander II of Russia.
The Duchess can be seen wearing the tiara with pearls, instead of the more modern emeralds, in many portraits from the time.
The Vladimir Kokoshnik Tiara
The tiara can be set with pearls or emeralds
She fled Russia, and was the last of the Romanovs to escape the country in 1920.
However, her jewels, including the precious tiara, were hidden before this when she was placed under house arrest in 1917.
Marie’s son and his British art dealer friend daringly saved the jewels by posing as workmen and sneaking them out of the former palace in 1920.
When they reached London, Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth II’s grandmother, bought the tiara with its pearls and sent it for much-needed repairs.
The emeralds, which can be suspended in the loops of the tiara, come from the ‘Cambridge Emeralds’.
The Duchess of Cambridge, Queen Mary’s grandmother, owned the emeralds and they were inherited by her son, Mary’s brother.
However, when he bequeathed the emeralds to his mistress, Queen Mary paid a handsome sum to buy them back, in order to keep the heirloom jewels in the family.
Queen Mary can be seen wearing the kokoshnik, with pearls, in her portrait for her husband George V’s Silver Jubilee.
Queen Elizabeth II has worn the Vladimir Kokoshnik with both the pearl and emerald options.
The last time was in 2014 when she chose to wear the green emeralds to honour the state visit of the Irish president.
In the end, Meghan chose Queen Mary’s Diamond Bandeau, a beautiful piece that had not been seen in public for over 50 years until the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s royal wedding.
Royal watchers are keenly anticipating which tiara latest royal bride Princess Beatrice will choose to wear at her wedding to Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi next year.
The York tiara, which the Queen purchased for for Sarah Ferguson from Garrard’s when she became Duchess of York in 1986, is a firm favourite, as it has not been seen in public since Fergie left the Royal Family.