Princess Diana’s wedding tiara goes on display for first time in over 50 years

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Diana, Princess of Wales wearing the Spencer family tiara at state dinner in New Brunswick - PA Wire
Diana, Princess of Wales wearing the Spencer family tiara at state dinner in New Brunswick - PA Wire

The tiara worn by Diana, Princess of Wales, on her wedding day is to go on public display in London for the first time in more than 50 years as part of a Platinum Jubilee exhibition at Sotheby’s.

The piece, which dates back to the 18th century, has been in the Spencer family for generations. It will join some 50 other tiaras of aristocratic and royal provenance, many being seen in public for the first time in decades.

Diana's brother, Earl Spencer, has loaned the family heirloom to the auction house – the first time it will have been exhibited in London since the 1960s.

The princess wore the elaborate garland tiara, which has a central heart-shaped motif set with diamonds flanked by continuous running scrolls interspersed with star and trumpet-shaped flowers, when she married Prince Charles in 1981.

Lord Spencer later recalled how the tiara gave Diana a splitting headache on the day of her wedding because she was not used to wearing it. She wore it on many later occasions, including state dinners on royal overseas tours.

Diana wore the tiara when she married Prince Charles in 1981 - PA Wire
Diana wore the tiara when she married Prince Charles in 1981 - PA Wire

The earliest elements of the piece are said to date back to 1767, before it was transformed into its current form by crown jeweller Garrard in the 1930s.

The heart-shaped section was said to be of particular sentimental value to Diana, with her grandmother Lady Cynthia Hamilton receiving it as a wedding present from her husband Jack, later the seventh Earl Spencer, in 1919.

Kristian Spofforth, the head of jewellery at Sotheby's London, said: "The sourcing of these jewels has been a labour of love, resulting in an exhibition that showcases the best iterations within the tiara style register, through some of its most famous incarnations – including the much-loved and photographed Spencer tiara.

"This is also a wonderful moment for us to shine a special light on the dazzling craftsmanship delivered by generations of mainly British-based jewellers across several centuries of tiara-making."

Among the other items on show will be an emerald and diamond tiara designed by Prince Albert, in his favoured Gothic Revival style, for his wife Queen Victoria in 1845. It was reportedly Victoria's favourite and is seen as one of the most elegant coloured gemstone tiaras ever created.

The event at Sotheby's, in New Bond Street, central London, will run from May 28 to June 15. Entry is free, and tickets can be booked in advance.

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