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April 17, 2016 2:19 pm  #1

TBF-QM-11 The Delhi Durbar Tiara

11. The Delhi Durbar Tiara

   This tiara, which George V commonly referred to as “May’s best tiara”,[1] was made in 1911 by Garrard,[2] as the centrepiece of the parure that Queen Mary was to wear to the Delhi Durbar.[3] It was made using the 675 diamonds, presented by the Directors of the De Beers Mine, taken from ‘Queen Mary’s Boucheron Loop Tiara’, as well as the diamonds from “several small ornaments furnished by Her Majesty”.[4]

   It was described by Roberts as being “in the form of a tall circlet of lyres and S-scrolls, linked by festoons; the upper border originally set with ten of the Cambridge emeralds; the rose and brilliant-cut stones in a combination of pavé, cut-down and rub-over settings”.[5]

   The ten emerald drops that were originally set on top of the tiara were taken from a necklace that had formerly been the property of Augusta, Duchess of Cambridge,[6] containing the emeralds that she had won during a German state lottery in Frankfurt in 1818.[7] In 1857 the Duchess of Cambridge gifted the necklace to the Duchess of Teck, as the latter noted in her diary “Mama…generously has given me her Emerald necklace”.[8] The Duchess of Cambridge retained around 11 emeralds, which she had mounted into another necklace which she subsequently left to the Duchess of Teck upon her death in 1889,[9] who was photographed wearing one of these necklaces.[10]

   Upon the death of the Duchess of Teck in 1897, the emeralds passed to Prince Francis of Teck, who upon his death in 1910 left them to his mistress the Countess of Kilmorey,[11] from whom Queen Mary purchased them in the same year.[12]

   Queen Mary wore the tiara in its original form to the Delhi Durbar in 1911,[13] and was also photographed wearing it in a series of official portraits.[14]

   In 1912 a series of minor alterations were carried out to the tiara, including the altering the centre “to take either or both of the two Lesser Stars of Africa”,[15] by mounting “4 small brilliants and 17 roses as ornaments on either side of a large drop brilliant” for which Garrard provided 9 of the rose diamonds at a cost of “£4 18s”;[16] and altering the centre “to take [the] large square brilliant”.[17] Queen Mary can be seen wearing the tiara with Cullinan III and IV mounted in the tiara in an official portrait.[18]

    Although Roberts claimed that the emerald drops were permanently removed from the top of the tiara in 1922,[19] for use in both ‘The Vladimir Tiara’ and ‘Queen Mary’s Emerald Bandeau’,[20] it is clear that these drops were always detachable, and continued to be so, as Queen Mary wore the tiara with the emerald finials in an official portrait in 1927.[21]

    Roberts records that the tiara was loaned by Queen Mary to Queen Elizabeth in 1946,[22] and Queen Mary herself records that it was “handed over to the Queen for her to wear in South Africa – 1947”;[23] Queen Elizabeth was thus photographed wearing this tiara in South Africa, to the Opening of Parliament in Cape Town on the 21 February 1947.[24] It was retained by Queen Elizabeth who at some point had the tiara altered: with alterations to the centre of the tiara, and with the removal of the band of diamonds across of the top of the tiara, thus widening of the top of the circlet and fanning out the whole piece. It was in this altered state that the tiara was loaned to the exhibition of Tiaras at the Victoria & Albert Museum in 2001, which was the first occasion at which the tiara had been seen since 1947.[25]

   Upon the death of Queen Elizabeth in 2002 the tiara was bequeathed to The Queen, who subsequently loaned it to the Duchess of Cornwall in 2005,[26] and she wore it during the first State Banquet that she attended, in honour of the King of Norway.[27]

1. Munn, Tiaras, pl. 106
2. Roberts, The Queen’s Diamonds, p. 178; GA Garrard RL2, fol. 45, King George V, 16 June 1911; GA Garrard RL2, fol. 70, Queen Mary, 16 June 1911
3. Roberts, The Queen’s Diamonds, p. 178
4. Roberts, The Queen’s Diamonds, p. 178; RA JEWEL/GARRARD/QM, fol. 81;
RA QM/PRIV/CC93, p. 32
5. Roberts, The Queen’s Diamonds, p. 178
6. Roberts, The Queen’s Diamonds, p. 178; RA JEWEL/GARRARD/QM, fol. 81; RA QM/PRIV/CC93, p. 32
7. Roberts, The Queen’s Diamonds, p. 174; Field, The Queen’s Jewels, p. 88
8. Roberts, The Queen’s Diamonds, p. 174; Prince Mary Adelaide’s Journal, 23 February 1857 (RA VIC/ADDA8/3441/202)
9. Roberts, The Queen’s Diamonds, p. 174; GA Garrard RL33, fol. 230, 16 June 1868; GA Garrard RL33, fol. 304, 15 May 1882
10. Field, The Queen’s Jewels, p. 88
11. Roberts, The Queen’s Diamonds, p. 178; RA JEWEL/GARRARD/QM, fol. 81; RA QM/PRIV/CC93, p. 32
12. Roberts, The Queen’s Diamonds, p. 178
13. Munn, Tiaras, pl. 106; Pope-Hennessy, Queen Mary, pl. 24
14. Roberts, The Queen’s Diamonds, p. 176 
15. Ibid., p. 178
16. Roberts, The Queen’s Diamonds, p. 178; GA Garrard RL2, fol. 75, Queen Mary, 19 March 1912
17. Roberts, The Queen’s Diamonds, p. 178; GA Garrard RL2, fol. 76, Queen Mary, 14 May 1912
18. Roberts, The Queen’s Diamonds, p. 180 (RCIN 2306168)
19. Roberts, The Queen’s Diamonds, p. 178
20. Ibid., p. 178
21. Royal Collection: Queen Mary 1927: RCIN 2808166 [Accessed 4 June 2012]
22. Roberts, The Queen’s Diamonds, p. 178
23. Roberts, The Queen’s Diamonds, p. 15; RA JEWEL/GARRARD/QM, fol. 81;
RA QM/PRIV/CC93, p. 32
24. Roberts, The Queen’s Diamonds, p. 181 (RCIN 2704719)
25. Munn, Tiaras, pls. 128 and 129
26. Roberts, The Queen’s Diamonds, p. 178
27. Ibid., p. 181


June 7, 2016 2:45 pm  #2

Re: TBF-QM-11 The Delhi Durbar Tiara

11. The Delhi Durbar Tiara

I believe there is more for us to learn about the beginnings of this tiara. It was created as a tall circlet (unlike most tiaras) for a purpose.  Being such a size it was more likely to be for displaying the huge Cullinans III and IV (becoming her "best" tiara) than for a set of Cambridge emeralds. This is what I like to think, but cannot prove, yet.

Roberts says the Durbar tiara was made in 1911 as the centrepiece of a parure for the Delhi Durbar.[1] The first date given is in the first footnote, for the 16 June 1911 mounting of emeralds as tiara, necklace and stomacher.  I contend that the verb "mounting" most likely means the tiara (and the other pieces) existed before that date.

What might the tiara have held before then? Her Cullinan III and IV diamonds? It certainly did.  Beth in a thread in the RJWMB drew our attention to a portrait in the Illustrated London News (ILN) dated 20 May 1911.  Queen Mary is wearing the Durbar tiara set with Cullinans III and IV (below). We have not yet found a date for the sitting for that portrait but can assert it was before the first date stated by Roberts.

I have found another portrait in the ILN dated 24 June 1911 showing the tiara set with emeralds (below) but have not been able to establish a date for this portrait sitting either.

So the "Durbar" tiara, in both forms, existed well before the Durbar and before the coronation.

The pieces forming a "Delhi Durbar parure" probably needed to go back and forth to a jeweller to be rearranged, with Cullinans or emeralds, according to what Queen Mary was planning to wear from one occasion to the next. Garrard did the work on some of those occasions.[2]

Some 1911 dates:
May 20    ILN pic of portrait with Cullinans
May 26    her 44th birthday
June 16   Garrard entry for mounting emeralds
June 22   coronation
June 24   ILN pic of portrait with emeralds
July 13    investiture of Prince of Wales
December 12    Delhi Durbar

1.  Hugh Roberts, The Queen's Diamonds  p 178
2.  Ibid.


August 24, 2016 5:12 pm  #3

Re: TBF-QM-11 The Delhi Durbar Tiara

11. The Delhi Durbar Tiara

Nudging closer now, maybe, to the beginnings of this tiara. My current conclusions are below after three portraits A. B. and C. which are all by John Thomson (1837-1921) but dated 1910, 1911, or 1912 depending on where we find these portraits.

They show Queen Mary wearing the Durbar tiara, mounted with Cullinans III and IV, and "The Smaller Cullinan Diamond Pendant" which was one of the gifts to her from South Africe in June 1910.  Tick!

Portraits A. B. and C. are almost certainly from the one sitting because the jewels and gown are identical and only the backgrounds differ. Queen Mary wears insignia for the Garter which she got in 1910. Tick!

A. Credit: Wellcome Library, London. "Queen Mary (May of Teck) standing, wearing a tiara and holding a folded fan." Photograph by John Thomson, ca 1910. Published: Thomson, London (141 New Bond St. W.) [1910?]
I asked Wellcome about the year 1910 and was told it was "because he was at that address at that time" referring to the photographer.

B. Credit: Illustrated London News, 20 May 1911. At the foot it says "Photograph by Thomson." This is the full length pic of the first I posted in message #2.

C. Credit: The Queen's Diamonds by Hugh Roberts, page 180, "Queen Mary photographed by Thomson in 1912…"    RCIN 2306168 (page 316).
Here is the link to to RCIN 2306168 instead of posting the portrait yet again.

More and more I feel convinced that  -
(a) we are seeing the original tiara here
(b) it was created for Cullinans III and IV and
(c) quite possibly made in 1910.

Perhaps it was made by Carringtons rather than Garrards. Only a supposition at this point!
My research continues.

Added: a number of internet sources say that Thomson retired from his commercial studio in 1910 and spent most of his time back in Edinburgh. Another tick for 1910 !!

Last edited by Nellie (August 24, 2016 10:30 pm)


March 13, 2019 9:31 am  #4

Re: TBF-QM-11 The Delhi Durbar Tiara

I now think the broadest date range for creation of the Durbar tiara is June 1910 to January 1911 - and for the Thomson portrait in message #3 above (which the Royal Collection shows as 1912). Some dates in 1911:

Feb 6    For the 1st State Opening of Parliament of the reign Queen Mary wore the Cullinans I II II and IV as two brooches, the smaller one pendant to her necklaces
May 20    publication of ILN (Illustrated London News) portrait Beth found of the Durbar tiara with Cs III & IV (see message #2 above)
May 31    Garrard invited people to view both Imperial State crown and Queen Mary's new crown ref Times 1 June 1911
June 3    (GV birthday) according to Wikipedia Queen Mary received the George V family order but no source given for the date
June 16    Garrard mounting emeralds as tiara, etc - Roberts p178  (DB in footnote probably means dress book)
June 22    coronation day
June 24    publication date of ILN portrait I found of Durbar tiara with emeralds which is a crop superimposed over a page long pic of her train (see message #2)

I am thinking about how long Garrard needed to have the Cullinans III and IV to get work finished on Queen Mary's crown between February 6 and May 31.
After February 6 did the two Cullinans go into the tiara briefly (for a portrait sitting) then out to go to Garrard for her crown? I believe that is unlikely.

I think the following two pics predate 6 February 1911. Note that Queen Mary is wearing three shoulder orders - V&A, EVII and Crown of India - but not yet the George V.

I think the following pic with emeralds and Cullinans in the stomacher is from the portrait sitting for the cropped image published by the ILN on June 24. Again Queen Mary is not yet wearing the George V order.

See message #5 for more pics.


March 13, 2019 10:05 am  #5

Re: TBF-QM-11 The Delhi Durbar Tiara

Some pics to expand on message # 4

State Opening of Parliament 6 February 1911 where Queen Mary is wearing Cullinans I II III and IV

Full length versions of cropped pics in message#3 where they would be from the one sitting but with and without the Garter sash and star


March 13, 2019 10:58 am  #6

Re: TBF-QM-11 The Delhi Durbar Tiara

Reconsidering these cropped pics, Queen Mary received the Order of the Garter in 1910 so it would be a very odd thing to do to pose with and without the Garter in 1911, let alone 1912.  Delay in publishing a pic until 20 May 1911 (see message #2) could be attributed to the 12 month period of court mourning of the death of Edward VII.


August 22, 2019 4:26 pm  #7

Re: TBF-QM-11 The Delhi Durbar Tiara

The Daily Mail dated 21 August 2019 has the pic of Queen Mary in message #4 here, wearing the Durbar tiara with emeralds and dated 1910.
Wow! I wonder where the DM got that year from.
It is the year I like to believe the tiara was made - for the Cullinans.



June 6, 2020 8:41 pm  #8

Re: TBF-QM-11 The Delhi Durbar Tiara

A wonderful new development.

I now have evidence that the sitting for the Thomson portrait below must predate 19 May 1911.
That is the date of a form, completed and with registration stamp of same date, applying for registration of John Thomson as copyright author of that work. It is included in a bundle of forms registered at the Stationer's Company and now held by The National Archives, Kew.

So -
19 May 1911 - Thomson obtained copyright for a number of portraits of Queen Mary (in the bundle)
20 May 1911 - the ILN recorded “the Queen as Lady of the Garter: an exclusive photograph, published for the first time” (see message # 2 above)
I have long contended that the portraits are from the same sitting.
The window of possibilities for the date when Queen Mary sat for these portraits has been narrowed considerably.


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