The incredible story behind the Queen’s smuggled tiara – ‘Rooted in revolution’

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During the reign of King George V and Queen Mary, George’s Russian cousin, Tsar Nicholas II, abdicated and was eventually executed by the Bolsheviks in 1918. The Russian Revolution saw many members of the Romanov family attempt to flee the country, and the last to flee was Grand Duchess Vladimir.

What is the Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara?

Grand Duchess Vladimir was known to be passionate about her jewels and had a reputation for glamour.

So much so, many of the Grand Duchess’ jewels were smuggled out of Russia during the crisis.

One of the most famous pieces in her jewellery collection was the Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara.

Daena Borrowman, Marketing Manager at jewellerybox, explained to “The Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara is rooted in the Russian Revolution.

“It was commissioned from the Romanov court jeweller Bolin by the Duchess Marie or Grand Duchess Vladimir after she became the wife of Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich of Russia, the uncle of the last Romanov emperor, Nicholas II.

“When the Russian royals were forced to flee to safety, her son Grand Duke Boris had someone sneak into the Vladimir Palace disguised as a worker and transport all the royal jewels, including the Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara, to London, where the Grand Duchess’ son was living in exile.”

The Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara was later sold to support the Duchess’ children.

How did the Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara become part of the British royal collection?

The Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara was later sold at auction to Queen Mary, the wife of King George V and grandmother of the current Queen Elizabeth II.

In transit the tiara had been damaged, so Queen Mary had it repaired at the royal jeweller, Garrard.

Ms Borrowman added: “After the death of the Grand Duchess, Queen Mary purchased the tiara at auction, replacing the original dangling pearls with 15 of her mother’s Cambridge cabochon emeralds.

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“The tiara has a mechanism allowing the pearls or emeralds to be swapped but can also be worn without either.”

The tiara passed down the generations, and Queen Elizabeth II inherited it when she became Queen in 1952.

The tiara underwent alterations in 1988 when the Queen had the frame updated.

The Queen has been pictured wearing the Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara on several occasions.

She has worn the tiara with pearls, emeralds, or without any embellishments at all on different occasions.

As the tiara is widely regarded as one of the Queen’s favourite diadems, she is unlikely to ever part with it.

But if the Royal Family did sell the tiara, it would likely fetch a truly staggering sum at auction.

Ms Borrowman added: “It is estimated at over £10million today.”

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