Duchess Camilla’s ‘favorite’ £3 million accessory once changed by Queen Mother

Duchess Camilla’s iconic tiara is reportedly on ‘long-term loan’ from the Queen

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall attends a Service of Thanksgiving for the life and work of Sir Donald Gosling at Westminster Abbey on December 11, 2019
(Image credit: Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

Duchess Camilla’s ‘favorite’ £3 accessory is a showstopper few royal fans could forget, but the Queen Mother once changed this iconic item’s design significantly.  

Throughout the Duchess of Cornwall’s almost 17 years as an official member of the Royal Family after tying the knot with Prince Charles, she has worn some truly unforgettable accessories. From her Burns Night brooch featured in a video shared by Clarence House last year, to her stylish designer handbag during an engagement in 2020, Duchess Camilla opts for classic elegance with her style. But perhaps one of her most loved and most admired pieces is of course the Grenville Tiara! 

Featuring row upon row of diamonds set in platinum this is hard to beat. The Grenville Tiara was previously worn just as often by the Queen Mother, who inherited it from the original owner, Dame Margaret Grenville. However, it seems that the valuable tiara was once very different from the piece Duchess Camilla is said to love wearing so much…

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Charles, Prince of Wales arrive at the CHOGM Dinner at the Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel during the Commonwealth Heads of Government 2013 Opening Ceremony

(Image credit: Photo by Arthur Edwards - Pool/Getty Images)

Margaret Grenville was a close friend of the Queen’s grandmother, Queen Mary, and her mother, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, the Queen Mother and her stunning Grenville Tiara was made in Paris in 1921. It was crafted by Boucheron’s Chief Designer at the time, Lucien Hirtz, and Margaret reportedly had an older tiara broken up and used its diamonds for it. 

As reported by Express.co.uk, Margaret Grenville was not the only one to switch up the design of this diamond-encrusted piece. It’s been claimed that the Queen Mother went on to change things even further after she inherited the Grenville Tiara following Margaret Grenville’s death in 1942 having had no children to pass the treasure on to. 

When the Queen Mother received the Grenville Tiara, it reportedly had none of the iconic raised sections to it and rows of five graduated diamonds sparkled between the honeycomb design at the top. She then turned to Cartier to help transform the piece with these well-known additions. 

The Queen Mother attending the premiere of '84 Charing Cross Road' in London in the 1980s

(Image credit: Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

According to Express.co.uk the original diamonds were moved into a more triangular shape and five new diamonds were added in. The final design is not only magnificent, but also hugely valuable and Duchess Camilla has often been pictured wearing the tiara on loan from the Queen, who inherited it from her mother.

Opening up to the publication, Alexandra Michell, Gemologist Prestige Pawnbrokers of Channel 4’s Posh Pawn explained, "This exceptional diadem was created by Boucheron, the Parisian luxury jewellery house in 1921 and it is no surprise that it became one of The Queen Mother’s favourite pieces.”

She continued, “Camilla is often seen wearing the piece to important occasions and it is reported to be one of her favorite pieces to wear albeit it remains in the royal collection and is on ‘long term loan’ to the Duchess."

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall attends the annual Diplomatic Reception at Buckingham Palace on December 5, 2017

(Image credit: Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

And it seems that whilst Duchess Camilla has most closely been associated with the tiara in recent years, she does have a family connection to this exquisite piece too. 

“Interestingly, Camilla’s grandmother, Sonia Keppel, was Dame Margaret Greville’s goddaughter,” Alexandra added. “A difficult piece to put a value on but set in platinum with its numerous stunning diamonds and given the fact it is a Boucheron piece, I would estimate it to be in the region of £2–3 million.”

Duchess Camilla has been pictured wearing the Grenville Tiara many times over the years, including a diplomatic reception at Buckingham Palace in 2017. Every time she wears it, the Duchess of Cornwall perhaps reflects upon the history of this piece—and how much she loves the final design! 

Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Royal Editor with eight years experience working in publishing. Her specialist areas include the British Royal Family, ranging from protocol to outfits. Alongside putting her royal knowledge to good use, Emma knows all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV and more. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, Emma enjoys cooking, long walks and watching yet more crime dramas!