Do you have any pieces of jewelry in your jewelry box that you haven’t worn in over eighty years? We didn’t think so. But if you’re the British Royal family and we’re talking about the Royal jewelry vaults… well, maybe things just get a bit lost in there. Apparently the Teck Crescent Tiara is holed up inside, just waiting for the light of day.
We know who currently has it (Camilla, on permanent loan from the Queen, along with the Delhi Durbar and the Boucheron Honeycomb/Greville tiaras) but we’ve yet to ever see her wear it. Let’s trace it from Camilla backwards to its originator.
As we mentioned, the current Queen has permanently loaned this tiara to Camilla. But how did the Queen come to have it? She inherited it from her mother, The Queen Mum, of course. The Queen Mother wore it only a handful of times and it was on her head that we last saw it worn, during WWII over 80 years ago (it was on exhibit at the V&A Museum in 2001, however). It is quite large in circumference and would take quite a head of hair to hold it (now we see why the Queen gave it to Camilla). The Queen Mother was the first British Queen to frown upon the use of hair-pieces to supplement one’s coiffure, so perhaps that’s why she wore it so very little.
Tracing it back yet further, the tiara was given to the Queen Mother by her mother-in-law, Queen Mary. We have no photographic evidence that Mary ever wore it (which is crazy, because that woman loved her jewels and those she didn’t love, she reworked).
How Mary came to have it we don’t quite understand. It showed up in her possession at some point, having been seen prior on the head of Margaret, the Marchioness of Cambridge. Margaret had married Prince Adolphus, who had been the Duke of Teck, but he renounced his German title during World War I and was made Marquess of Cambridge instead. Maybe Margaret didn’t care for the tiara or perhaps Mary made a purchase because that woman did love a jewel. But we do know how Margaret came to have it.
Margaret’s mother-in-law, Princess Mary Adelaide, Duchess of Teck had passed it down to her son upon her death and it was Mary Adelaide who had the tiara created to begin with. MA (as we’ll refer to her here forth) had been not only a princess at birth (she was the daughter of Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge and Augusta of Hesse-Kassel) but she was the granddaughter of one king (George III) and the grandmother of two more (Edward VIII and George VI). She married Francis, the Duke of Teck and they were the parents to our dear jewelry loving Queen Mary (the apple apparently didn’t fall far from the tree, given the photos).
The tiara was rebuilt in 1901 to sturdy it up a bit and somewhere along the way the two extra rows of diamonds were removed (they were likely there to add sparkle, of course, but also height). And we do love that the crescent shapes that split up the three rose elements (a design we honestly just don’t get – maybe there’s some symbolism we’re missing??), can be removed and worn facing either direction (you can see both options in the photos above). But honestly, it’s not our very favorite of the royal tiaras. What do you think? Should Camilla pull the Teck Crescent Tiara out of the vault and wear it or should she let it be where it is? Share your thoughts in the comments below.