Will Kate Middleton Break Tradition by Not Wearing a Tiara to the Coronation?
King Charles and Queen Camilla will sport crowns, but the Princess of Wales may go with a surprisingly low-key choice at her father-in-law's crowning ceremony
King Charles and Queen Camilla are set to be crowned with historic headpieces at the May 6 coronation, but Kate Middleton may go with a surprisingly more low-key option at the historic event
With less than six weeks to go until the coronation, it's thought that the Princess of Wales might not be wearing a tiara for the prestigious event. However, with increased anticipation for her to deliver glamour, PEOPLE understands the conversation around the decision is still ongoing.
Looking back at past coronations, there is a precedent for women in the royal family to wear bejewelled toppers.
"Tiaras were worn by nearly every royal lady at the Queen's coronation in 1953, as well lots of aristocratic women but times have certainly changed in 70 years," Lauren Kiehna, writer of The Court Jeweller tells PEOPLE.
Indeed, seven decades ago, there were tiaras and coronets aplenty, including Queen Elizabeth's maids of honour and hundreds of the peeresses too. Garrard, the crown jeweller at the time was inundated not only with new commissions from guests attending but also with cleaning requests as everyone dusted off their finest sparkly headwear after the war.
"No one had worn their jewellery or tiaras during the war," recalls author Lady Anne Glenconner, then called Lady Anne Coke and one of Elizabeth's six maids. "People were queuing to have their tiaras, which were like great fenders of diamonds, stomachers and necklaces cleaned."
One thing we can guarantee is that King Charles and Queen Camilla will be sporting crowns. The most historically significant is the St. Edward's Crown. According to the Historic Royal Palace's website, it is "the most important and sacred of all the crowns" and "is only used at the moment of crowning itself." Originally made for the coronation of King Charles II in 1661, the crown weighs nearly 5 lbs and is encrusted with 444 semi-precious stones.
Camilla will certainly be breaking with tradition when it comes to her choice of crown. Wearing Queen Mary's Crown, worn by its namesake for King George V's coronation in 1911, it will be the first time in recent history that an existing crown is re-used for a coronation. The decision made "in the interests of sustainability and efficiency" certainly indicates the coronation will look and feel different to the previous one.
If the King follows the lead of his late mother, he will depart Westminster Abbey wearing the lighter 3 lb. Imperial State Crown, which contains some of the most famous jewels in the royal collection. Featuring the Black Prince's Ruby, the Stuart Sapphire and Cullinan II diamond, in addition to the St. Edward's Sapphire which once belonged to Anglo-Saxon King, Edward the Confessor who died in 1066.
Should Kate, along with other senior female members of the family forgo a tiara, then presumably long gowns are out of the question too, resulting in a radically different dress code to what might have been expected, with heirloom tiaras potentially replaced with hats or fascinators.
Related:King Charles' Coronation — All Your Burning Questions About the Crowning Ceremony Answered
"I'm certainly hoping we'll see coronation tiaras, but it's possible that Charles is following the example of some of his European counterparts, like the King of the Netherlands, and setting a daytime formal dress code for the event," says royal jewelry expert, Kiehna.
"That would mean that we could still see some grand jewels, like necklaces, brooches and earrings but no tiaras. I'll be sad if that's true but it may just be another part of the 'de-formalizing' of the British royal world that has taken place over the last several decades."
King Charles' ceremony will be more modest than his mother's crowning. An estimated 2,000 guests will pour into Westminster Abbey's pews on May 6, while 8,251 people attended Elizabeth's. And the service has been cut down to 60 minutes — a third of the Queen's three-hour coronation in 1953. Charles will also introduce more modern elements. "It's going to be more inclusive. I think with many more religions [represented]," says Glenconner.
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