Meghan Markle arrived at St George's Chapel wearing a five-metre long veil held in place by a tiara owned by Prince Harry’s great-great grandmother, Queen Mary. Known as the Queen Mary diamond bandeau tiara, the delicate diamond headpiece was lent to Ms Markle by the Queen.
The diamond and platinum tiara was made in 1932 and is formed as a flexible band of 11 sections, pierced with interlaced ovals and pavé set with large and small brilliant diamonds, according to a statement released by Kensington Palace. The centre is set with a detachable brooch of ten brilliant diamonds.
The diamond bandeau was made for Queen Mary and specifically designed to accommodate the centre brooch, which had been given to the Princess by the County of Lincoln in 1893 when she married Prince George, Duke of York.
When Queen Mary died in 1953, both the tiara and the brooch were passed on to her granddaughter, the Queen.
Ms Markle is also wearing diamond earrings and a bracelet made by Cartier. She chose not to wear a necklace, which would have interfered with the off-the-shoulder neckline of her Givenchy haute couture by Claire Waight Keller gown.
By borrowing a tiara that belonged to Queen Mary, Ms Markle follows in the footsteps of the Queen herself, who wore Mary’s kokoshnik-style diamond Fringe tiara at her own wedding in 1947. The tiara had been made in 1919 for Queen Mary, was passed on to her daughter, the Queen Mother, and lent to the bride for her wedding day.
It famously snapped hours before the ceremony and had to be taken to the court jeweller for repair. Princess Elizabeth also wore a double-strand pearl necklace. Decades later, Princess Anne would borrow Queen Mary’s fringe tiara for her own wedding to Mark Phillips in 1973.
Historic protocol dictates that only married women can wear tiaras, so a bride’s wedding day is typically the first time she will wear such a piece.
Traditionally, aristocratic brides will wear their family’s tiara for the wedding day, before switching to use their new husband’s family jewels after she is married: as Diana Spencer did when she wore the Spencer tiara for her wedding to Prince Charles in 1981.
Kate Middleton wore the Cartier Halo tiara for her wedding to Prince William in 2011. Originally made in 1936 for the Queen Mother, it was given to the Queen on her 18th birthday and lent to Catherine for her big day. It has now been returned to the Queen’s collection - although it is currently part of a Cartier exhibition in Australia.
The Duchess paired the tiara with Robinson Pelham earrings that were commissioned for the occasion and featured a diamond oak-leaf motif with an acorn dangling inside, both symbols part of the Middleton family coat of arms. Like Ms Markle, she chose not to wear a necklace for the occasion.