All the Pretty Tiaras on Victoria

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Kendra recently talked a bit about her “meh” feelings towards Victoria (2017), but I’ve been watching it and finding it more enjoyable than not. Yes, the plot is bullshit and only passingly related to the actual history, but the costumes are pretty! Rufus Sewell! Tiaras! Also, Rufus Sewell!

As hard as it may be, let’s put aside Rufus Sewell for a moment and talk about the tiaras. One of my (fairly minor) issues with the show is that the costumes are actually pretty accurate for the late-1830s, the tiaras are all over the map. Most are actually Chinese-made reproductions available on eBay for under $20. I feel it is only right to warn you that if you’re certified in tiaraology, this is going to bug the crap out of you.

 

The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara

The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara repro

More commonly found in silver (like the original), this is a gold version of the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara. It’s a pretty tiara, no doubt about it, but when we see Lady Emma Portland wearing it in episode 1, it’s 1838. This tiara didn’t come into existence until 1893.

Apparently someone must have figured this out because two minutes later, she’s wearing a completely different tiara.

More on tiara continuity in a bit…

 

Hanoverian Fringe Tiara

So, this one is a kind of an enigma. We know that Victoria inherited the Hanoverian Fringe from her aunt, but it’s gone through a few different iterations, in addition to there being numerous other fringe tiaras in existence. Victoria’s fringe tiara, seen in the Winterhalter painting above, was originally a necklace that Victoria had set into a headband. Here’s where it gets confusing: The Hanoverian Tiara is probably still in the Royal Collection, but the fringe tiara that is most often mistaken for it is the fringe tiara owned by Queen Mary. That fringe tiara was originally a necklace gifted from Victoria to Mary; Mary then set the necklace into the tiara configuration in 1919. Apparently, these are two completely different tiaras.

 

From “An Ordinary Woman,” US episode 5.

Queen Mary’s fringe makes its debut in the episode “An Ordinary Woman,” which is roughly around 1840 for those of you keeping track. Victoria probably had the Hanoverian tiara by that point, but, like I mentioned above, it was set into a headband so that the fringe stood perpendicular over her head; this one is most definitely a repro of the Queen Mary Fringe. Given the insane number of fringe tiaras out there, I will cut them some slack here. If you’re looking for an inexpensive knock-off of this tiara, you can totally find it on eBay.

 

The Cartier Bandeau Tiara

The Cartier Bandeau Tiara is one of the most recognizable and famous of the tiaras around, and it dates to 1910. So, about 70 years too early for 1840. It’s fabulous, however, and if you want to own a copy of it, look no further than eBay.

Possible Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara

It’s hard to say exactly, but I think the Duchess of Sutherland is wearing a repro of the Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara in a brief scene from episode 5, “An Ordinary Woman.” It doesn’t look quite the same (the Cambridge Lover’s Knot doesn’t have a pointy bit centered, whereas this one does), so I’m not sold on it being an exact repro; plus, there are plenty of pearl drop tiaras in existence, so it could be a variation on one of them. The Cambridge Knot Tiara was commissioned in 1913, so again, it’s an early 20th-century tiara.

The closest I can get without a good look at it is this repro tiara, but there are a couple pendant pearl tiaras available on good ‘ol eBay, including a passable Cambridge Lover’s Knot, if you’re interested in something like it.

 

York Diamond Tiara

This extra looks like she could be wearing a repro of the York Diamond Tiara, but it’s hard to say. She’s only seen for a split second before cutting away, and it’s not a very clear shot. We will just presume it is the knock-off until proven otherwise. The history of the York Diamond Tiara appears to have started with Sarah, Duchess of York, who was given the tiara as a wedding gift from Queen Elizabeth II, but beyond Fergie there’s little history of its origin. We’ll just say that the tiara is 150 years too late for 1838 and leave it at that.

I feel like someone should have done something about that bertha, too.

 

Misc. Bridal Tiara

I’m not certain that this tiara is a reproduction of anything, but it was used for nearly all of the promo photos and throughout the show. It’s pretty, but it’s driving me crazy because I feel like I’ve seen it somewhere before. Anyway, this is the tiara that Victoria wears most frequently, so you see it a lot. It’s available on eBay right now for the low, low price of $19.99.

 

Tiara Continuity Issues

By far, the most annoying thing is the tiara continuity problems. At first, I was willing to forgive them for swapping the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara out for another one on Lady Emma, but then this happened in episode 2 (or the second half of episode 1 for the US audience):

I mean, this isn’t just one little tiara switcheroo on a secondary character. This is about as glaringly obvious as it gets. In just over a minute there are three separate scenes of Victoria wearing two different crowns and possibly three different dresses. Where did the sash go? Is anyone driving this show? Is everyone asleep at the wheel here?

Is this the Victorian equivalent of when someone snatches your weave?

Not only that, but the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland makes another appearance in Episodes 4 and 5 on the Duchess of Kent. So… They swapped it out on Lady Portland in mid-scene, only to end up reused on another character four episodes later?

Argh!

This is why mommy drinks.

 

There are many other tiaras throughout the show that I’ve not been able to source, but which look REALLY familiar… If you can identify them, drop it in the comments!

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About the author

Sarah Lorraine

Website

Sarah discovered her dual passion for history and costume right around the age of twelve. Dragged kicking and screaming to her first Renaissance Faire at Black Point, she was convinced she was going to hate it, but to her surprise, she fell head over heels in love with the world of reenactment and dress up immediately. Her undergraduate degree is in Clothing & Textile Design, and she has a Master's in Art History and Visual Culture. When she’s not hauling crap to SCA events and ren faires, Sarah enjoys reading true crime books, writing fiction, and sewing historical clothing from the Middle Ages through the 20th-century. One of these days, she might even start updating her old costuming blog again.

22 Responses

  1. Susan Pola

    Besides being pretty, they are driving me to chocolate and I shouldn’t binge eat. But I do wonder why the tiaras are all over the period date wise. I don’t believe the Pallisers had that problem when made in the 1980s or Downton Abbey did but you think they might have gotten more date right tiaras by renting them or borrowing from collections in the UK.

    Reply
  2. cvirtue

    Generally the eBay ones are resold from China; I’ve been buying more direct for less money, although the shipping is usually 3-4 weeks.

    Reply
  3. picasso Manu

    What do you mean, “let’s put aside Rufus Sewell”? At least send him my way, I may have use for him (hehe…)
    And I’d never have gotten my degree in tiaralogy, I’m sad to realize. I’m all confused by the bling…
    Also, I’d love to put my hands on those necklaces and drag them a few times through wet ashes to tone down the shiny (that’s what I do with my own Chinese stuff to give it a bit of age… Works a treat!)

    Reply
  4. Samantha

    As you suggested above, this bugs the hell out of me…it’s shameless self promotion but if you’re looking for a quality historically inspired tiara, completely handmade, rather than a cheap eBay knock off, that’s my business and my passion. Samantha Walden vintage tiaras (I still have enough humility to not post a link. Just about)

    Reply
  5. Karen K.

    That is HILARIOUS — who’d’ve thunk the creators of a BBC drama buy stuff off Ebay? TV producers: they’re just like us!

    Reply
    • Sarah Lorraine

      I think it’s a mix of high-quality repros and made-from-the-tears-of-Chinese-orphans knock-offs from eBay. Still, there appears to have been little thought given to the dating of the tiaras in general, except for getting the Fringe Tiara sort-of right in terms of era (still, it’s the wrong fringe tiara, but we’re just picking nits at this point). I’m thinking that might have been an accident. :P

      Reply
  6. Andrew Schroeder

    The random tiara of Victoria’s reminds me of her Oriental Circlet Tiara:

    http://orderofsplendor.blogspot.com/2012/03/tiara-thursday-oriental-circlet.html

    I am still bemused as to why they randomly made the Duchess of Kent a blonde when she clearly had very dark brown hair in all her portraits/photographs. I get that they’re probably trying to make differentiate between her and Victoria, but it just seems so clichéd. Of course, I think the way they’ve treated the Duchess’s character in the series overall has been pretty bad; they’ve thus far neglected to mention that she had two other children from her previous marriage.

    Reply
    • Janet Nickerson

      Only the Duchess’ daughter (Feodora) from her 1st marriage lived with her in England, and only until she married (1828). The Duchess was pretty much in thrall to Conroy, as he was executor of the Duke’s will, although he wasn’t able to persuade the Duke to make him Victoria’s guardian. It was discovered much later that Conroy had robbed the Duchess blind, as well as Princess Sophia, a daughter of George III.

      Reply
  7. Emma Bull

    Now I want a fringe tiara.

    My question about the show: why don’t any of Victoria’s gloves fit? I know she’s tiny, but–floppy fingertips!

    Reply
  8. Lynn S

    For those who need another rabbit hole to fall down, or just need some happy, sparkly times, Sarah’s article reminded me if one of my other favorite fug gifts (I found Frock Flicks thanks to go fug yourself. :) ), Order of Sartorial Splendor: http://orderofsplendor.blogspot.com/?m=1 Happy time wasting!!

    Reply
  9. Susan Pola

    Last night was the final episode of the season. PBS had a special afterwards as its pledge drive. The announcer/host, who bothers me for some reason, questioned Rufus on the Vicbourne romance and even interjected that Victoria proposed to Lord M. Wisely Rufus said nothing. It never happened and the host was so stupid.

    Reply

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