Tiaras, while not a requirement, tend to adorn the heads of most royal brides — and those walking down the aisle to exchange vows with a royal. As luck for modern brides would have it, these sparkling headpieces have risen in popularity in recent years. Petite tiaras have often appeared on recent runways (see: endless crowns paired with Haute Couture, and Alexander Wang's ) and royal family members and royal-adjacent socialites often lean toward donning regal headwear for their big day. Case in point: Pippa Middleton's custom tiara by Robinson Pelham for her wedding to James Matthews.
But what about the real-deal royals? We're talking about the women who have access to the heirlooms in the crown jewels for their weddings. Princess Diana famously wore an heirloom from her family (the Spencer Tiara) rather than a royal heirloom atop her head for her wedding to Prince Charles. Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, wore the Cartier Halo Scroll tiara down the aisle to wed Prince William, which George VI commissioned from Cartier for his wife in 1936. Sarah Ferguson was gifted a Garrard crown by the Queen for her wedding to Prince Andrew, The York Diamond Tiara, which hasn't been seen in the crowned jewels or in public since. Our gut instincts on royal dressing tell us we'll likely see this paired with Princess Eugenie's veil as she walks down the aisle to wed her beau, Jack Brooksbank, on October 12th.
But what about Meghan Markle? With endless amounts of speculation on all things she'll wear down the aisle on May 19th, we looked into all the possibilities of what could top her head at St. George's Chapel for her wedding to Prince Harry.
The Spencer Tiara
Markle's engagement ring is flanked by two round diamonds from a brooch that . Donning the late Princess of Wales' wedding tiara for her nuptials to Prince Harry would be yet another way the couple chooses to honor Diana's legacy.
Most royal wedding tiaras are from the royal vault, but Diana's actually belonged to her family, who can trace their lineage back to the Tudor period, . The headpiece, which is actually made up of many pieces of family jewelry (a common occurrence with heirloom tiaras), is now in the possession of Diana's brother, Earl. that Meghan will have the opportunity to borrow the piece for her wedding day, should she so choose.
With that said, given that the wedding will incite countless comparisons to Harry's mother – tiara aside – many experts doubt that Markle will go in this direction for her big day, despite how sentimental donning it would be. Additionally, since Meghan is marrying into the Windsor family, and not the Spencers, it seems more likely that she will choose jewelry from the royal vault. (But, given that Diana was not a royal until marriage either, and that Markle tends to think outside the box when it comes to abiding by traditions, this could be an argument for Markle choosing this historic piece.)
The Strathmore Rose Tiara
Floral motifs aren't essential for wedding day jewelry, but most royal brides tend to style their looks with them. Luckily, they're on trend as well, and reports that royal experts seem to think this tiara is the front runner for Meghan's wedding day. Made in the 19th century, this tiara was given to the Queen Mother by her parents as a wedding present, before she gifted it to Queen Elizabeth II. Unlike most royal tiaras, this one has yet to make a modern-day appearance, giving Meghan Markle the chance to be the first to wear it publicly since Harry's great grandmother did. While the Spencer tiara would be the type of piece Meghan would loan for the day of and then have to immediately return to the Spencer family, the Strathmore Rose would likely be on a long-term loan to Markle, and could be a piece she would be able to wear for appearances as a Duchess, as the Duchess of Cambridge has with her heirloom loans.
The Cambridge Lover's Knot Tiara
If you love the royals, you undoubtedly recognize this piece. Princess Diana loved this tiara, dubbed the Cambridge Lover's Knot, and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, has worn it most recently. Originally made for Queen Mary by Garrard, it was passed down to Queen Elizabeth before making its way to Diana; but, , it's a replica of a much older tiara, one made for Queen Mary's grandmother, Princess Augusta of Hesse, the Duchess of Cambridge.
The original was sold at auction in Geneva, but given Diana's affinity for this piece and that the Lover's Knot history correlates with Kate's formal title, it seems appropriate that the piece be reserved for her. But, we're not ruling this out completely; Harry and Meghan's desire to incorporate family and sentimentality into their day could lead Meghan to ask her future sister-in-law and the Queen's permission to wear it down the aisle.
The Cartier Halo Tiara
This tiara was originally created in 1936 by George VI, who commissioned it from Cartier. Since then, , the Queen received it for her 18th birthday as a gift from her mother, and she has since let it to Princess Margaret, Anne and more recently, to the Duchess of Cambridge for her wedding day. An unlikely choice, this could be a sign of unity between the sisters-in-law. However, it seems more likely that Markle will opt for another heirloom should she choose to wear a tiara. Kate played by the rules from start to finish during her engagement and subsequent wedding to Prince William, and Meghan will likely look to retain a sense of her personal style amidst royal expectations and requirements for her wedding day.
The Lotus Flower Tiara
This tiara, which originally belonged to the Queen Mother and was made from a necklace gifted to her by her husband, now sits in the Duchess of Cambridge's wardrobe. While it's a trendier choice, notes Marie Claire, and would likely pair best with Markle's modern style choices, it lacks the sentimentality of the Lover's Knot, the Spencer and even the Cartier Halo. Should Meghan opt to wear the Lotus Flower, it would likely be more of a stylistic decision in pairing her gown with the right accessories than anything else.
The Cartier Bandeau Tiara
While this tiara isn't floral, nor does it sit raised on the head, it's an undoubtedly modern choice for Meghan Markle. Made from three gem-set bracelets on a bandeau frame, this tiara lays flat, and originally belonged to the Queen Mother, reports . This headpiece has a decidedly deco feel, but Markle may feel that it suits her style more than the classic or romantic options in the royal vault.
A Custom Tiara
While royal experts have weighed in on what they think Meghan could choose to wear from the crowned jewels and the other tiaras available to her, many seem to feel that creating a custom piece is most Markle's style. While Pippa Middleton was the latest quasi-royal bride to create her own bridal headpiece, it seems that one can be an actual royal and choose to opt out of an heirloom. Harry worked with a jeweler to create Meghan's custom engagement ring, , and the couple could very well turn to the same jeweler, David Thomas of , to create a tiara for Markle's walk down the aisle. This, after all, could be her opportunity to create a headpiece that she can eventually pass down to future generations—as well as her chance to stray from tradition and make a style statement.
Shock. Awe. This would, without question, be the ballsiest of choices for Markle, but many It-Brits don't see a reason for Meghan to wear a royal headpiece for her wedding day, despite tradition or expectation. "I dont think she should wear a tiara," says British wedding planner, . "I just don't think its her...Yes, she's marrying Prince Harry, but Harry is different, and they are a very different type of royal couple. I think they're going to be very personal in what they do." Meghan and Harry have been known to bend the rules—they won't be wedding at Westminster, nor did Harry propose with an exact heirloom, instead opting to borrow two petite diamonds from one of his mother's brooches—and this could be yet another, subtle moment in this royal bride-to-be decides to do something differently. "There will definitely be something in her hair," says Russell, "But whether it's an heirloom, I'm not sure it should be. Wearing a tiara puts her in a box. And, everyone expects her to wear one. They'll follow tradition, but I think there will be quite a few surprises, and they will definitely put their own stamp on things."