When Meghan Markle waltzed down the aisle toward Prince Harry on May 19, 2018, she paired her elegant Givenchy gown with a statement-making tiara. While the royal accessory is one most of us remember vividly, the glittering headpiece wasn’t what the Duke and Duchess of Sussex originally envisioned for Meghan's big-day look. In Harry’s forthcoming memoir, Spare, the royal admits that he wanted his wife to wear one of Princess Diana’s tiaras on their special day. Instead, Queen Elizabeth II encouraged the couple to select an accessory from her private collection of jewelry at Buckingham Palace, according to Page Six.
The queen and her royal dresser, Angela Kelly, gave Meghan five options, which included a tiara with emeralds and another with aquamarine stones. Although Harry doesn’t describe the top choice in his book, he writes that one of them “stood out from the others” and was “made for Meg.” In Battle of Brothers: William & Harry by royal historian Robert Lacy, the author claims Meghan was partial to the emerald design.
One week later, the engaged duo asked Kelly about borrowing the winning select, so Meghan could test it with her wedding hairstyle, but Harry says Kelly responded with silence at first. Once they finally heard from her, the royal dresser told them the crown couldn’t leave the palace without “an ordinance and police escort.” “That seemed to us a little exaggerated,” Harry notes. “It was obvious they were putting up obstacles, but why? It didn’t occur to us what motives they might have.”
In his book, Lacy writes that the former monarch rejected the emerald tiara request because there was a scandal attached to it. Since the crown made its way to Windsor through “dodgy channels” from Russia during the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, Lacy explains that wearing the crown wouldn’t be a good look for the royal family. “It would suit neither the palace nor Meghan herself that spring if newspapers started speculating about which Tsarist princess had worn the tiara and how she had been assassinated,” the author states. According to Lacy, Harry was furious when he found out that Meghan wasn’t allowed to don the emerald piece.
Instead, the bride ended up wearing Queen Mary’s Diamond Bandeau for her nuptials, which she styled with a 16-foot silk tulle veil embroidered with 53 flowers that represented each country in the British Commonwealth. The jeweled headpiece, which is estimated to cost $2.4 million—one of Queen Elizabeth’s most expensive crowns in her collection—has a long-standing history. Mary of Teck received the nine-piece diamond crown as a wedding gift from the Country of Lincoln when she wed Prince George in July of 1893, The Court Jeweller reports. Queen Mary wore the headpiece quite often, such as for the premiere of the film The Lavender Hill Mob in 1951. After she passed away in March of 1953, Queen Elizabeth II inherited the jewel. The tiara sat in the royal vault for 65 years until Meghan wore it on her wedding day. After Meghan said “I do,” she returned the hair accessory to the queen.