Princess Margaret married Antony Armstrong-Jones on May 6, 1960, and unlike other royal brides, the Queen’s younger sister bought the Poltimore Tiara, rather than borrowing from the royal vaults. Because Princess Margaret was known for doing things her own way, this often meant she broke with royal tradition. This was certainly the case when she married society photographer Anthony Armstrong-Jones.
This was not only because she was the first daughter of a King to marry a non-royal, but also breaking protocol in her choice of her wedding tiara.
Rather than borrowing one of the many diadems available to her in the royal collection, as is traditional for royal brides, Margaret instead purchased a new one.
While the royals have been known to buy jewellery, for instance Queen Mary famously bought the emerald tiara once belonging to Grand Duchess Vladimir of Russia, it was very unusual to not wear a family heirloom for a wedding day.
Despite having access to the crown jewels, the then 29-year-old Margaret wanted something she could call her own.
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“It’s such a modern thing,” Sara Prentice, creative director at the House of Garrard, told Vogue.
“We’re finding more and more now that women are purchasing for themselves, but way back in 1959, she chose it for herself.
“She must have loved it to do that.”
The Poltimore Tiara, Margaret’s headpiece of choice, was purchased by the Princess from the grandson of the original owner, the 4th Baron Poltimore, who sold it to her at auction in 1959 for £5,500.
Lady Poltimore bought the tiara from Garrard, the royal jewellers, in 1870, and wore it for the coronation of King George V in 1911.
Not just a tiara, it was designed to be broken down into a necklace as well as 11 brooches.
It is a completely closed circuit, which is quite rare.
The Christie’s auction listing for it describes it as a “graduated line of cushion-shaped and old-cut diamond clusters alternating with diamond-set scroll motifs, each surmounted by old-cut diamond terminals, to the collet-set diamond line, mounted in silver and gold.”
Royal fan, Olivia Campbell, tweeted: “Princess Margaret was a Princess and a strong independent woman, defeating the narrative that the two have to be separate.”
It later become most synonymous with the famous image of Margaret in the bathtub, wearing nothing but the Poltimore, which was taken by her husband.
This cemented the Princess’s status as the Royal Family’s ‘wild child’.
After her death, the tiara was part of an auction of her estate by her children, Earl Snowdon and Lady Sarah Chatto, and raised an incredible £926,400.