Princess Margaret’s Poltimore tiara: the 19th century treasure which cemented her status as a rebel royal and the sad reason it’s no longer in the family

Princess Margaret wore the Poltimore tiara to her fabulously lavish wedding to Antony Armstrong-Jones, and in a risqué portrait

Princess Margaret's Poltimore tiara came to represent her rebellious spirit
(Image credit: Getty Images)

There are many diadems, crowns and tiaras that complete the Crown Jewels, the Royal Family’s vast vault of jewelry. But, in keeping with her much-reported rebellious nature, Princess Margaret decided to go another way when it came to the accessories on her wedding day. She went out and bought herself her own crown, the Poltimore Tiara. Picked up at an auction for around $6000, the romantic piece is a classic example of Victorian design.

Princess Margaret was a royal who made no effort to hide the fact that she loved the privileges it afforded her.

From her decadent morning routine to not mincing her words, even when meeting fashion icons, Margaret enjoyed life unapologetically.  Indeed, the Princess, perhaps aware of her reputation, once knowingly told Andrew Duncan, author of The Reality of Monarchy, “When my sister and I were growing up, she was made out to be the goody goody one. That was boring, so the press tried to make out I was wicked as hell.”

While wicked is extreme, she was most definitely spirited – and this permeated into every aspect of her life, even down to her jewelry choices.

Princess Margaret bought the Poltimore tiara herself

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Take the Poltimore tiara. Worn on one of the most important days of her life – her wedding to Antony Armstrong-Jones – one would have expected the sister of the Queen to wear a piece from the royal vaults.

But Margaret wanted to do things her own way, sporting a tiara she went out and paid for herself.

Margaret bought the Poltimore Tiara in a 1959 auction for around $6600 (£5,500). The very act of going out and picking her own jewels was forward-thinking and unusual for the time – with women often presented jewelry by male suitors.

The tiara originally belonged to Florence Bampfylde, Lady Poltimore, wife of the second Baron Poltimore. Made in 1870 by the House of Garrard in London, the company who were the official Crown Jewellers between 1843 and 2007.

Princess Margaret adorning the Poltimore tiara on her wedding day

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Poltimore Tiara, with diamond scrolls evoking flora, flowers, and nature, is the epitome of Victorian-era jewelry.

The framework is comprised of both silver and gold metals, with brown ribbon intricately woven in, meant to match Margaret’s hair color. This is what gave the tiara the appearance of floating above her head.

The most famous occasion where Margaret wore the stunning piece was her 1960 wedding to Antony Armstrong-Jones. However, she wore it on several other occasions.

In 1977, she sported the tiara for the shah of Iran’s state visit to the United Kingdom.

Most interestingly, Margaret would choose to use the multifunctionality of the intricate piece, which could be transformed into a necklace (which Margaret did in 1960) or into 11 different brooches.

Margaret wearing the Poltimore Tiara when disassembled as a necklace at the Royal Opera House, 1960

(Image credit: Bettmann / Getty)

One hilariously on-brand occasion Margaret sported the tiara was in a shocking portrait taken by her husband.

Margaret was photographed wearing the tiara – and only the tiara – as she soaked in a bath. The portrait has been hidden from public view, but the memory is one that many recall when detailing Margaret’s wild nature, and it was touched on in season three of Netflix’s The Crown.

Who owns the Poltimore Tiara now?

Sadly, following her death in 2002, Margaret’s children had to sell off a lot of her personal effects.

Princess Margaret's tiara was sold at a Christie's auction

(Image credit: MIKE CLARKE/AFP via Getty Images)

Her son, David Armstrong-Jones, now Lord Snowdon, explained why they had to sell Margaret’s treasures. “There were many, many reasons, mostly financial, that persuaded us that that was the correct route because, you know, when people die, taxes need to be paid,” he told The Telegraph.

Christies held the auction of Princess Margaret’s private collection. The Poltimore Tiara, which was picked up for around $6600 would go on to sell for around $1.1 million (£926,400) to a private buyer.

Its whereabouts now are unknown.

Jack Slater
Freelance writer

Jack Slater is not the Last Action Hero, but that's what comes up first when you Google him. Preferring a much more sedentary life, Jack gets his thrills by covering news, entertainment, celebrity, film and culture for woman&home, and other digital publications.

Having written for various print and online publications—ranging from national syndicates to niche magazines—Jack has written about nearly everything there is to write about, covering LGBTQ+ news, celebrity features, TV and film scoops, reviewing the latest theatre shows lighting up London’s West End and the most pressing of SEO based stories.