They call it the Triumph of Love. It is an intricately designed tiara of diamond and Persian turquoise, created by Garrard in 1900 and given to the Queen Mother as a wedding gift by her father in law King George V. While I am sure she was deeply appreciative of the gesture, the turquoise tiara turns out not to be a favorite of Queen Mum. She gifts it to her daughter Princess Margaret on her 18th birthday.
Margaret, ever daring, wears the Persian turquoise tiara and the brooch and necklace that accompany it often. Upon her death, a substantial portion of her jewels are sold at Christie’s. The Persian turquoise tiara is not included in the sale and is returned to the royal vaults.
It is the one I wish Meghan Markle would wear on Saturday; and the one I know she definitely will not.
But I am going to make my case anyway. Never mind the Persian turquoise, exceedingly rare, prized by connoisseurs, and a symbol of love and protection, and never mind the romance laden love knots and laurel wreaths that surround it. Could there possibly be, in the royal tiara arsenal, a more appropriate tiara for this most modern of royal weddings—the union of a British Prince to a divorced American actress and activist—than one named the Triumph of Love?
Could there possibly be, in the royal tiara arsenal, a more appropriate tiara for this most modern of royal weddings than one named the Triumph of Love?
Consider too the tiara’s history as one of Princess Margaret’s pieces, and factor in the Queen’s sister’s own tortured romantic history. Margaret, in love with the divorced Peter Townsend, was forbidden to marry him by the Church of England. Margaret’s love did not win out in the end. Harry and Meghan’s did. What better way to mark the evolution and progress of the Crown than by a Triumph of Love tiara marking that profound difference? Love is love is love is turquoise.
“Oh she is not going to wear turquoise,” jewelry expert and author Vivienne Becker tells me, dismissing my obsession. “They are going to be very careful in making sure her tiara is appropriate.” Becker points to the Queen Mother’s Strathmore Rose tiara as a strong contender.
The Strathmore Rose, a wedding gift to the Queen Mother from her own father, has not been seen for years, which increases its odds—Meghan is highly unlikely to wear a piece strongly associated with Her Majesty herself—but its seeming disappearance from the public eye also gives credence to rumors that it might be too fragile to be worn.
If the floral romance of the Strathmore is not an option Becker would like to see something “slightly more geometric, with a modern hexagonal shape, like 1920s Cartier.” She also points to the pieces in the royal collection done in the bandeau style—the Meander tiara, a favorite of Princess Anne’s or the unfortunately named Lozenge tiara are key examples—as they sit lower on the head.
“A bit less regal,” says Becker, “after all she isn’t going to be Queen.” I insist again on the turquoise, and Becker almost concedes, noting the surprise a colored stone tiara might provide: “Maybe, maybe, she will wear the aquamarines.”
Rebecca Selva of New York’s Fred Leighon jewels also points to the Queen Mother as a guiding light. “Meghan is going to choose something that is reflective of her own style for sure, but she is going to embrace the tradition. She is marrying into the royal family, a clan that is steeped in it. And why not embrace one of its most loved members by wearing something from her collection?”
A Cartier diadem created by the union of three Art Deco bracelets would be Selva’s choice. “It is modern and romantic, and works with her features, which are very delicate.”
She brings up Princess Margaret’s Poltimore tiara and we both sigh with regret remembering that the large Garrard tiara, purchased by Margaret for her own wedding, was sold at Christies after her death for $1.7 million.
It does bring up the possibility that Meghan and Harry will choose to buy an entirely new piece. The center stone of her engagement ring is a conflict free diamond from Botswana. And the new rumor is that Stella McCartney, a fashion designer known for her devotion to sustainability, is designing her dress. Might there be a statement to her tiara choice? Have we been looking down the wrong tiara rabbit hole all this time?
The other stones in her ring, it should be noted, come from a piece that belonged to Princess Diana. How the groom’s mother will be incorporated into the service remains a question, and leads us to the Spencer tiara Diana worn at her wedding to Prince Charles. Some have speculated Meghan will wear the Spencer, now back in that family’s collection.
Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia, however, is not one of them. “I don’t see why she would. She is not marrying into the Spencer family,” says the jeweler. It might be a bit rude no?“
You know what is never rude? Turquoise.
Volandes is the author of Jeweler: Masters, Mavericks, and Visionaries of Modern Design.