Princess Diana’s Wedding Tiara Goes on Display
The Queen’s 70th birthday is approaching, and everyone is planning a lavish celebration. There’s much to do to commemorate the momentous anniversary, from bank holidays to formal Platinum Jubilee celebrations at Buckingham Palace, royal afternoon teas to champagne workshops. Sotheby’s is commemorating the milestone in style, with a series of exhibitions and the first public display of 50 rare aristocratic tiaras.
The Spencer tiara, previously worn by Princess Diana, will be featured in the unique exhibition, which will trace the most spectacular regal jewelry since the late 18th century.
The tiara was made in 1767 and has been passed down through the Spencer family for generations. Princess Diana famously wore it as she walked down the aisle at St. Paul’s Cathedral to marry Prince Charles more than 40 years ago. For the first time since the 1960s, it will be shown in London.
Throughout 1983 and 1992, Princess Diana was frequently seen wearing the particular garment to white-tie parties, special celebrations, and royal tours. The Spencer tiara is designed in the style of a garland, with a heart-shaped center surrounded by diamonds and silver and gold blossoms. Diana’s grandmother, Lady Cynthia Hamilton, acquired the heart-shaped piece as a wedding present for her 1919 marriage to Viscount Althorp, the future sixth Earl Spencer.
Napoleon Bonaparte and Empress Joséphine were among the previous royal wearers, with the exhibition’s highlights including an 1830s tiara styled as a wreath of diamond-set leaves, as well as a turquoise Van Cleef & Arpels piece from the 1960s.
Royal tiaras will be on display at the auction house during May and June, with a special Platinum Jubilee display lasting from May 28 to June 15, featuring seven portraits of Britain’s queens throughout the years.
“The Queen has been at the forefront of Britain’s creativity throughout her reign – both as guardian of a world-class collection and as an inspiration for painters, designers, and others,” says Frances Christie, vice chairman of Sotheby’s. “With our unique position at the helm of both art and luxury, this year marks the perfect occasion for Sotheby’s to celebrate creativity in all its forms – art, music, literature, food, fashion, and performing arts.”
Sotheby’s will offer a series of talks, debates, and performances in addition to presenting royal portraits, rare aristocratic jewels, and manuscripts, while its New Bond Street restaurant will collaborate with Chatsworth Estate on a meal utilizing fresh vegetables from the estate’s kitchen gardens. On June 29, Sotheby’s will have a special sale of British art, including a new painting of Queen Elizabeth by artist Chris Levine, which is expected to sell for up to £150,000.
Despite her tumultuous divorce from Prince Charles in 1996 and her terrible death in a Paris automobile accident the following year, Diana remains one of the most adored personalities in British history.
In a BBC poll in 2002, she was voted the third-greatest British person of all time, trailing only Prime Minister Winston Churchill–a distant cousin of Diana’s on the Spencer side–and engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who played a vital part in the country’s industrial revolution. Diana defeated Charles Darwin, William Shakespeare, Isaac Newton, and Elizabeth I, among other notable British people
Her sons, Princes William and Harry, unveiled a statue of Diana at her former home, Kensington Palace, on what would have been her 60th birthday last year. Diana’s wedding gown was put on exhibit at Kensington Palace’s museum last year.