When it comes to "something borrowed," royals just do it best. Among British royals, wedding traditions include the bride-to-be wearing a tiara on her big day—and it's not your average hair accessory.
While tiaras are known to be blinged-out with diamonds, there's a sentimental value involved, too. Almost every piece in the royal vault has a history that can be traced back to its original owner, or in some cases, the original necklace or brooch that it's been crafted from. Oftentimes, daughters choose to wear the same tiara that their mother did on her own royal wedding day. And if you're really lucky, a bride that marries into the royal family is sometimes gifted a tiara by her new in-laws (talk about "something new" goals!). It's a family tradition that goes beyond dozens of sparkly diamonds.
For example, when Meghan Markle walked down the aisle to wed Prince Harry, she wore Queen Mary's Diamond Bandeau Tiara, on loan from Queen Elizabeth II herself. The Queen also granted her granddaughter, Princess Beatrice, the Queen Mary Russian Fringe tiara for her secret wedding in July 2020—the same tiara the Queen sported on her own wedding day decades before!
Below, we're taking a look back at some of the most iconic royal wedding tiaras throughout history.
Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother
April 26, 1923
The Queen Mother wore the Strathmore tiara for her bridal portraits, which was a wedding gift from her father, the Earl of Strathmore. It features a rose design and is adorned with rose-cut diamonds.
Queen Elizabeth II
November 20, 1947
Queen Elizabeth's wedding tiara of choice was Queen Mary's Russian Fringe tiara, a piece made for her grandmother in 1919, which can also be worn as a necklace. Her only daughter, Princess Anne, wore it for her own big day in 1973.
May 6, 1960
The stunning Poltimore tiara was purchased when Margaret announced her engagement, and naturally, she wore the tall diamond accessory for her special day.
Katharine, Duchess of Kent
June 8, 1961
When marrying Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, Katharine wore the Kent Diamond and Pearl Fringe tiara, a gift from mother-in-law Princess Marina. Her daughter would later wear the family heirloom for her wedding day.
Brigitte, Duchess of Gloucester
July 8, 1972
Proving that it's not always about diamonds, Brigitte wore a different type of crown for her wedding to Prince Richard of Gloucester: a romantic flower crown.
November 14, 1973
When Queen Elizabeth's only daughter wed Mark Philips, she chose an extra-special "something old." She wore Queen Mary's Russian Fringe tiara, the very piece her mother wore on her wedding day.
July 29, 1981
The Spencer family tiara reached its iconic status when Princess Diana wore it for her wedding to Prince Charles. It is said that her sisters, Lady Sarah and Jane, wore the Spencer tiara on their wedding days and Diana wanted to keep with tradition, declining to borrow her mother-in-law's Queen Mary's Lover's Knot sparkler.
Sarah, Duchess of York
July 23, 1986
When Sarah wed the Queen's second son, Prince Andrew, her tiara, often called the York Diamond tiara, was her "something new." The beautiful diamond piece was given to her by the Queen and Prince Philip as a wedding gift.
Lady Helen Taylor
July 18, 1992
Lady Helen Taylor, the daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Kent, opted for a family heirloom for her big day. She wore the Kent Diamond and Pearl Fringe tiara that her mother wore at her wedding.
Serena Armstrong-Jones, Countess of Snowdon
October 8, 1993
When marrying David Armstrong-Jones, the son of Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones, Serena donned a delicate Lotus Flower tiara that was given to her mother-in-law by her mother in 1959.
Lady Sarah Chatto
July 14, 1994
The daughter of Princess Margaret wore the Snowdon Floral tiara for her summer wedding. It is made up of three diamond floral brooches that were turned into a tiara for this very day.
Sophie Rhys-Jones, Countess of Wessex
June 19, 1999
When she wed Queen Elizabeth II's youngest son, Prince Edward in a small ceremony at Windsor Castle, Sophie Rhys-Jones donned a beautiful tiara that most of the world had never seen. Her "something new" was a gift from her new mother-in-law and is said to have been custom-made using four different pieces from one of Queen Victoria's crowns.
May 17, 2008
Autumn married Princess Anne's son, Peter Phillips, in 2008 wearing her new mother-in-law's Festoon tiara. The diamond piece was a gift from World Wide ShippGroup after she christened one of their ships in 1973.
May 6, 2006
For her big day, Laura wore the same tiara her mother Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall wore on her wedding day in 1973 to her first husband, Andrew Parker Bowles. The Cubitt-Shand tiara belonged to Camilla's grandmother, Sonia Keppel, and features a gorgeous floral design encrusted in—what else?—but diamonds.
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge
April 29, 2011
For her highly-anticipated royal wedding to Prince William in 2011, Kate Middleton donned the stunning Cartier Halo tiara, which she borrowed from Queen Elizabeth II. King George VI gifted the tiara to his wife, the Queen Mother, in 1936 and it now sits among Queen Elizabeth II's collection.
July 30, 2011
Zara chose to wear The Meander tiara on her wedding day, a Greek key-patterned bandeau from Princess Anne's collection that once belonged to Prince Philip's mother, Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark.
May 19, 2018
Ahead of May's royal wedding, it was heavily debated which tiara Meghan Markle will choose for her first turn as a royal. Would she pay homage to her late mother-in-law, Princess Diana, by wearing the Spencer Tiara, perhaps? Well, Markle ended up surprising everyone with her crown of choice, pairing her Givenchy wedding dress and 16.5-foot veil with the Queen Mary Diamond Bandeau Tiara.
In a press release, Kensington Palace wrote, "The veil is held in place by Queen Mary's diamond bandeau tiara, lent to Ms. Markle by The Queen. The diamond bandeau is English and was made in 1932, with the entre brooch dating from 1893."
October 12, 2018
For her fall nuptials, Princess Eugenie wore the Greville Emerald tiara, which features sparkling emeralds and a 93.70-carat center stone.
July 17, 2020
In addition to wearing one of her grandmother's gowns on her wedding day, Princess Beatrice also wore a special tiara from Queen Elizabeth II: Queen Mary's Russian Fringe tiara.