Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Tiara Time: The Delhi Durbar Tiara

Welcome to the first of another series we'll be writing weekly on The Royal Digest - Tiara Time. In each post we'll be looking at a different royal tiara, its origins, history and different generations it has been passed down to. We start with a particularly magnificent one today: the Delhi Durbar Tiara.

The Royal Collection

The Delhi Durbar was a massive celebration at Coronation Park in Delhi, India to mark the coronation of King George V and Queen Mary as Emperor and Empress of India. The event was held three times in all in 1877, 1903 and 1911. The 1911 Durbar was the only one attended by the sovereign, George V.

King George V and Queen Mary at the Delhi Durbar

For such a momentous occasion Queen Mary was going to need some serious jewels. However it was determined the crown jewels could not leave the United Kingdom so a new crown was ordered for George V and a new tiara for Mary. Garrard created an incredibly grand piece of jewellery, the Delhi Durbar Tiara. It was presented to the Queen by the Maharanee of Patiala on behalf of the ladies of India to mark the first visit by a British Queen-Empress. At Mary's behest, it was designed to match her other emerald jewellery created for the Delhi Durbar.

The Royal Collection / Official Delhi Durbar Portrait

The tiara takes the form of a tall circlet of lyres and S-scrolls, linked by festoons of rose and brilliant-cut diamonds. The upper boarder was originally set with ten of the Cambridge emeralds acquired by Queen Mary in 1910. The emeralds were previously owned by Mary's grandmother the Duchess of Cambridge, and they were originally bequeathed to Mary's brother who left them to his mistress. Upon hearing this, Mary demanded them back (and one simply does not say no to the Queen!)

The Royal Collection / Official Delhi Durbar Portrait

The emeralds were removed in 1922 for use elsewhere. The year following the Delhi Durbar the tiara was altered to take either or both of the two Lesser Stars of Africa - Cullinan III and IV; the drop-shaped stone was held at the top of the tiara and the cushion-shaped stone hung in the oval aperture below.

Below we see Queen Mary wearing the tiara with the Cullinan III and IV diamonds. Did you prefer it with the emeralds?

The Royal Collection

Queen Mary lent the tiara to her daughter-in-law Queen Elizabeth (The Queen Mother) in 1946. She wore it for the 1947 royal tour to South Africa and it remained with her until her death in 2002 (although it is not believed she wore it publicly after the tour), when it was inherited by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. It is interesting to note The Queen has never worn it publicly.


The tiara re-emerged in 2005 when The Queen lent it to The Duchess of Cornwall for a banquet during a visit by the Norwegian Royal Family. The appearance was met with mixed reviews with many feeling it was too queenly and steeped in royal history. Camilla hasn't worn it since, although it's entirely possible she will in the future.

The British Monarchy / PA

It is undoubtedly a sizeable tiara but visually splendid. What do you think of the Delhi Durbar Tiara and its wearers over the years? Who wore it best?

36 comments:

  1. Queen Mary was very beautiful..........

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  2. I think the Duchess of Cornwall wore it beautifully--possibly because she kept the rest of her jewellery relatively moderate.
    However if you want a Queen Empress then I suppose Mary and before her Queen Alexandra positively loaded themselves with jewels, which made seeing an individual piece very difficult.

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  3. I think this really suits Camilla, it's the perfect size and shape for her
    Nicola

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  4. Wow, this is a stunning tiara!!! I think I like it best without the Cambridge emeralds and the Cullinan diamonds, it's very regal all on it's own. I don't know how Queen Mary managed to stand upright with all the jewelry she wore. I wonder if she suffered from headaches from the weight of all the diamonds, pearls and other gems she wore all at the same time.

    I think it looked great on Camilla, she will one day be Queen Consort and should be able to wear the jewels that go along with that title.

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  5. Queen Mary has such a regal bearing! She wears jewels seriously.
    Camilla has the hair to wear such a tall tiara, but I understand people's discomfort with her wearing it. Overstepping a bit, perhaps.

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  6. I love this tiara, it's big and beautiful. I"m not too sure i like the emeralds or the diamonds but i think Queen Mary wore it well. the full picture of her with the tiara/diamonds is gorg. I do think it suits Camilla and i think is a good choice as HRH Elizabeth II has never worn it in public and further more leads me to wonder what else is in that vault!!

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  7. Theresa. New York22 January 2014 at 19:14

    In my opinion, the tiara looks better without the emeralds and the Cullinan diamonds. As to who wore it best and not being able to stand Camilla, I opt for Queen Elizabeth.

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    1. Thank you. I'd rather see it on Big Bird.

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    2. bluhare in Washington State23 January 2014 at 02:28

      LOL!! I think Miss Piggy would be a bit upset. (And, no, I'm not referring to Camilla.)

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  8. I think Queen Mary wore it best and I guess I don't have to say who I don't like it on? :) On certain occasions Camilla likes to appear grander than the Queen herself.

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  9. bluhare in Washington State22 January 2014 at 20:47

    Queen Mary's jewels . . . oh my. Those diamonds around her neck. I'm verklempt!

    As to whether with or without the Cullinan diamonds . . . I think I'd have to try it on personally to form the best opinion. :)

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  10. A second thought...

    bluhare, do you think the QM would be pleased to see Camilla with this tiara on her head? Sorry, but I just have to ask! :)

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    1. bluhare in Washington State23 January 2014 at 01:09

      She lent it to her, so I must surmise she was happy to see her wear it.

      Personally, I think that as Charles' wife she's got every right to wear whatever she is lent by the Queen, or whatever Charles wants to give her. Including pieces worn by Diana. Camilla hasn't done anything illegal, nor has she done anything Diana didn't do. Nor has she done anything except conduct herself very well in public.

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    2. Sorry, I was referring to the Queen Mother. How would she feel seeing Camilla in the tiara (given that I think Charles held off on marrying her while his grandmother was alive).

      As for her not doing anything "illegal"... perhaps, but just because something isn't illegal doesn't make it right. Instead of accepting a gold bracelet from Charles after he was engaged to Diana, she should have sent him packing, but no. She never intended to fully extract herself from his life. And she took full advantage of the problems C&D were having and in a passive aggressive manner sought to undermine the marriage of a future king. So to see her with a tiara and know that she may be the next Queen after all of that is more than a bit ironic IMHO.

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    3. bluhare, I also want to add that while Camilla's current position may give her the right to wear some of the pieces worn by Diana, it is supremely insensitive of her to do so where William and Harry are concerned. They may have "accepted" her for their father's sake, but they are not stupid and they know what their mother endured.

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    4. bluhare in Washington State23 January 2014 at 02:35

      Not you who should be sorry, royalfan, it's me for not reading properly. I read QE not QM, which was incorrect.

      First, I don't think that QM would care. She didn't like Diana toward the end so I don't think she'd care about Camilla and her jewels. I could be wrong on that one, but I don't think so. The following is conjecture. Appearances were everything to her and Diana didn't keep that up. She didn't know her place, she didn't support Charles (her favourite grandchild after all), and she created scandal and trouble for the Queen. Camilla did pretty much the opposite, in that she knew what her place was, she didn't go public, she just was discreet. What the QM's personal opinion was of Camilla, we'll never know, but she would not be a fan of someone who deliberately tried to usurp her grandson as Diana did.

      And as far as making things right, I think the onus on that is Charles. Not Camilla. We don't know what he told Diana, and we don't know what he told Camilla. We do know Diana was prone to dramatics, and I think she embellished it A LOT. In fact, there's a ton of photographic evidence to show the she and Charles were quite happy until probably after Harry was born. After that, definitely, all bets were off. But I will still not blame it on Camilla. I'll put it where it belongs, and that's in Charles' court.

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    5. Obviously the Queen must feel that Camilla has the right to wear this tiara as she lent it to her.
      Diana never wore it--but it is Royal property. so even if she had it would not be wrong for someone else to wear it.
      At least Charles was faithful in his unfaithfulness. I admired Diana for the work she did, but she has been dead a long time--we cannot say we must never again have a Princess of Wales--or that jewellery with a history before she was even born should never again be worn.
      We cannot know what happens inside a marriage, but please, let the poor girl rest in peace.

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    6. bluhare, I suspect that you are correct. Charles was the QM's favorite grandson and he could do no wrong. In allowing him and Camilla to meet at Birkhall (while they were both still married to other people), it shows a great deal of "flexibility" on her part given the life-long stance she took with the private lives of others in the RF.

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    7. Really? Forgive me I think the meeting at birkhill while the qm was alive is incorrect. She never approved if camilla or Diana which is why Charles married after her death. Ann London

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    8. Charles has done a lot of good with his patronages, ECT. but lets speak some truth here...he was such a smarmy man while married to Diana. The "Camilla gate" transcript made me absolutely nauseous. Dana had her own secret tape scandal of course, but that was after years of Charles betraying her...dianas secret tape was also much more PG. I love the tiara without all the extra clunky stones. Queen Mary sure loved her jewels...cant say I blame her

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    9. Thank you, jenndog. Exactly.

      Two wrongs don't make a right, but I keep going back to timeline...cause and effect. Charles *has* done a lot of good work and I admire him for not being afraid to speak up for causes he believes in (popular or not), but IMO his personal goals were very selfish and I cannot help but view the current scenario (his being next in line with Camilla at his side) as a reward for bad behavior. Are they good together and does he appear happy? Yes. But my God, at what cost??

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    10. bluhare in Washington State25 January 2014 at 03:55

      I don't think it's fair to judge him on one phone tape that was never meant to be public. I wouldn't want Mr. bluhare and my telephone conversations played to an unsuspecting public either, although not for those reasons. Mr. bluhare is not a fan of sweet nothings. It's actually pretty amazing we ever went out on a date. . . . .

      We are also talking about things that happened 20 years ago. I'm a lot different than I was 20 years ago, and I think it's a bit unfair to keep throwing that in Charles' face.

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    11. No one's private telephone conversation should be made public. I agree.

      My view of the tape was that it revealed his dependence...and her influence. I thought that aspect was very clear. It also validated Diana's position against all those who sought to label her as crazy.

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    12. Bluhare, I'm definitely not the same person I was twenty years ago, thank god, I was only twelve after all. I also wouldn't want my private conversations with Mr. jenndog played to the public either, but royalfan said it best, the secret tape showed just how much influence Camilla had on Charles and probably still has. I really don't know what else to say about the situation except, I don't even live in England and I don't want Camilla to be queen.....its not like the British people can just wait her out, like Americans can with the president. She is sticking around I'm afraid

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  11. LOVE this tiara! It is very large - a little too large for Camilla, in my opinion. I think I like it best in its current state - the emeralds and the diamond were very regal looking, but maybe a little *too* much in this day and age. I would love to see Kate wear it one of these days!

    I am so excited that you have started posting again on this blog, Charlotte!! I think the whole blog was a fabulous idea and am glad that you decided to start up again!

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  12. I didn't feel a tiara that was worn previously by queens was an appropriate choice for Camilla (until she becomes a queen consort) nor do I think she looked good in it. It was too large for her head and she looked like she was being intentonally pretentious on her first tiara appearence.

    I also don't think Camilla stays in the background with Charles. She just doesn't draw the attention Diana did despite many attempts on her part to do so. If she did, he might well be jealous of her too, but as there is,, there's nothing to be jealous of.

    I think she has put herself forward at times in an unbecoming way. She has appeared far too often with the boys at events their mother would have attended. No objection to her attending the Christening of George but she was prominent at every graduation, every passing out, at the hospital (where her presence was unnecessary). She even wanted to attend the Diana concert. Not a discreet or tactful woman.

    If she had any sense at all, she wouldn't touch any jewels Diana wore but would save them for Kate as presumably the next princess of Wales. There are so many other jewels Camilla could wear. She overdresses and overdoes it constantly like a wannabe but never will be Queen Mum. All those silly feathery hats and heavy necklaces. She looks best on the rare occasions she dresses simply.

    She was in Charles and Diana's marriage from the start in an unbecoming way. She catered to his sense of self-pity, one of his least attractive features and I suspect she still does. Her recent interview was cringe-worthy in its simpering. But it was Charles' role to tell her to back off and not to accept gifts from her. He is equally to blame. As for his causes, they would have gotten far more attention if he had made his first marriage work. Camilla has made him irrelevant to the young. Nothing can change that now.

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    1. bluhare in Washington State23 January 2014 at 17:36

      Technically Camilla is Princess of Wales. She just does not style herself as that.

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    2. @ Anonymous 07:47

      I'd send you a dozen roses AND a box of chocolates if I had your name and address!!! :) I completely agree with every word you've written.

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    3. True bluhare, but that is more out of fear of pushing things too far than it is out of respect. I say this because if Camilla could wear jewels previously worn by Diana (personal or not), or if she thought for a single moment that it would be acceptable to attend her memorial service, well, that was/is anything but respectful.

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    4. Royalfan, I would love the dozen roses and especially the chocolates!!! I wish I could work up more enthusiasm about Camilla because I'm afraid were going to be faced with a lot more of her, with William and Kate not stepping forward on the home front (or being told not to) but even if it wasn't for Diana, I just don't think it Camilla is a gifted royal.

      She has a very unpleasantly smug manner in every film I've seen of her. She is clearly trying to do well but doesn't radiate sincerity. Nothing to do with age, I'm not young myself and royals like Princess Alexandra do their role graciously and with charm. But being a royal is a job, and like all jobs, some people have a better public presence than others. Charles recognized that when he was younger (there are a number of quotes from him on the subject) but he seems to have forgotten it now.

      And I cringe every time I hear him call Camilla his "darling wife", Diana may not have been the best wife personally for him but she did a massive amount for the monarchy and would have made him an important and popular king had he just recognized her gifts rather than feeling threatened by them. I could be wrong but at not point in their marriage, even in the early days do I recall him calling her his darling wife.

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    5. bluhare in Washington State25 January 2014 at 19:20

      I don't think Diana ever was his "darling wife". We may love her, but he really did not. He does love Camilla, I think, or at least he did and they've now settled into a companionable relationship. And if he call her his darling wife, I think it's sweet. I don't know why the man can't have some happiness in his life.

      Because that's the thing that's never mentioned in all the Diana/Camilla stuff. Diana may have been unhappy but so was Charles. He was pushed into marrying Diana and it was for all intents and purposes an arranged marriage. The unfortunate thing was no one sat Diana down and told her that. It would have been interesting to see what happened had that been done. I wonder whether she'd have married him, but I think I'll say she would have.

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    6. @Anonymous 06:12
      Once again, I completely agree (especially on the smugness factor). I'll have to make that a bigger box of chocolates! :)

      bluhare, my issue with his determination to be happy is the *path* he took. Had he put as much effort into his first marriage as he has exercised with Campaign Camilla, it could have worked. He and Camilla may be better suited for each other, but he was the 32 year old king in waiting who proposed marriage to a 19 year old young lady. I doubt she thought of it as an arranged marriage from everything I've read over the years and if he did, well, it's unfortunate that he didn't have it in him to present it as such.

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    7. bluhare in Washington State25 January 2014 at 21:01

      And there may be many regrets about paths taken. Camilla had a husband (albeit an apparently philandering one) and children as well. They probably didn't like their mother being the object of scorn and ridicule any more than Diana's children liked it from their end, and if I have any sympathy for anyone in this mess its the children on both sides.

      But that's it from me on this topic. We can agree to disagree.

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  13. This is such an interesting post I learned do much! Thank you Charlotte!

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  14. I have to admit I really dislike Camilla in that tiara and role. However I'm trying to accept it as we have to live with it.

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  15. I do like the tiara on Camilla. I think her advanced age and type require a larger tiara. As for the queenly history I kinda have to agree. She should have picked something a bit simpler for her first tiara and maybe leave the more grand and history filled ones to the years when she is the queen consort.

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