Princess Diana's wedding tiara part of royal display at Sotheby's for platinum jubilee

The headpiece worn by Diana for her marriage to Prince Charles is one of 50 on display at the auction house

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Fifty tiaras linked to the British royal family and aristocrats are going on display at Sotheby's during Queen Elizabeth II's platinum jubilee celebrations, with some pieces being exhibited publicly for the first time.

As part of its Jubilee Season, the auction house in central London is holding the largest tiara exhibition in the UK for 20 years.

Among highlights is the historic Spencer Tiara, worn by Lady Diana during her wedding ceremony to Prince Charles at London's St Paul's Cathedral in 1981.

Said to date from 1767 and passed down the generations of the Spencer family, it is being exhibited in London for the first time since the 1960s.

Virtually all of the tiaras on display were made for and owned by British nobility, and represent some of the genre’s most outstanding examples.

The exhibition charts the history of the tiara from the late 18th century.

British royals have had long association with the tiara — including Prince Albert, the consort of Queen Victoria from 1840 until his death in 1861, who designed four for his wife.

Prince Albert designed four tiaras for his wife Queen Victoria and this emerald and diamond one was reportedly her favourite. AP

An emerald and diamond tiara in a gothic revival style was reportedly Queen Victoria's favourite. Many experts have described it as one of the most elegant and sumptuous coloured gemstone tiaras ever created.

It will be on display and will help illustrate the “evolution in designs prompted by monarchic taste, societal and economic shifts and influence from other art forms”, said Sotheby’s.

Another highlight is a diamond tiara from the 1830s. In a nod to the classic design of ancient Rome, the headpiece was designed as a wreath of diamond-set leaves.

Also on display is a turquoise cabochon and diamond tiara by French jewellers Van Cleef & Arpels, crafted in the 1960s at “the peak of the West’s fascination for Indian culture and jewellery design”, said the auctioneers.

While these historic examples are not for sale, Sotheby’s is also showcasing tiaras made by a new generation of British designers that are available to buy.

Lightness of Being, a new work of Queen Elizabeth II, donated by Chris Levine, will be sold at British Art: The Jubilee Auction with the proceeds benefiting the Platinum Jubilee Pageant.

Recent graduates from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London will bring the tiaras to life through an immersive series of stories, performance, and readings, organisers say.

Andy Warhol's pop art screen print of Queen Elizabeth II will be put on display as part of the platinum jubilee celebrations. AP

Other royal-themed events organised by Sotheby's between May 28 and June 15 include exhibitions of royal portraits, rare aristocratic jewels and important manuscripts.

Among highlights are paintings of the queens of England, and later Britain, stretching from Tudor times to the platinum jubilee.

The include Andy Warhol's pop art screen print of Queen Elizabeth II and the famous Armada portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, dating from 1588.

There will also be talks, debates and musical and dramatic performances.

Updated: May 27, 2022, 12:33 PM
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