While Kate Middleton’s iconic lace Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen wedding dress caught the public’s eye when she married Prince William on April 29, 2011, her tiara was what completed her look and heralded her true royal status. On the day of her wedding, the Princess of Wales accessorized with the Cartier Halo tiara, which was on loan from Queen Elizabeth II. However, the bride almost chose a completely different headpiece for her big day. Instead of a royal-approved tiara, Kate had her eye on a whimsical flower crown, which was inspired by her mother Carole Middleton’s own wedding style.
When Carole exchanged vows with Kate’s father, Michael Middleton, almost 30 years prior, the bride wore fresh flowers in her hair; once Kate was getting ready to piece together her own wedding wardrobe, she expressed her wishes to wear a halo of blooms, just like her mother had done. According to Yahoo! Life, the Kate wanted to infuse a part of her own family history into her special day rather than following royal tradition by wearing a crown from the vault. Since other royal family members sported flower crowns for their wedding days, it wasn’t much of a stretch. Take, for example, Princess Anne’s sprig of heather in her hair when she married Timothy Laurence in 1992.
In the end, because a bohemian-inspired headpiece would look out of place at such a formal royal wedding, the final decision was for Kate to complete her look with the Cartier Halo tiara. The glittering crown, composed of 739 brilliant-cut diamonds and 149 baguette diamonds, was part of Elizabeth’s collection. The piece has a long history that dates back to 1936. That year, King George VI commissioned Cartier to create a special tiara made with diamonds and platinum as a gift for the Queen Mother three weeks before he was crowned king, according to Tatler. It fell into Queen Elizabeth II’s hands when the Queen Mother gave it to her as a present for her 18th birthday in 1944.
Although Elizabeth never publicly wore the Cartier Halo tiara, she lent it to several other royal family members. Her sister, Princess Margaret, was the first to borrow the diamond crown, and she often wore it when she was younger. The former sovereign also lent the piece to her daughter, Princess Anne, who last wore it in the 1970s, Tatler reports.
About 40 years later, the Cartier Halo tiara finally made a reappearance when Kate donned it on her wedding day, and it quickly became one of the most recognizable royal tiaras to date. According to Yahoo! Life, due to Kate’s bond with Elizabeth and her personal dresser, Angela Kelly, the soon-to-be royal reportedly had access to any royal jewel. “Kate gets the pick of the jewels for big occasions, and the queen is happy to open up her jewellery box,” an inspired told Grazia. Even though Kate didn’t end up wearing her first choice of a hair accessory, her young bridesmaids wore crowns of white flowers with their white dresses.