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Royal British Tiaras: The Fife Fringe Tiara

There are tiaras that are instantly recognizable (we've featured several that fit into that category). And then there are tiaras who's style was so fashionable "everyone" had to have one. But then, that made it hard to distinguish from one another. Such an unfortunate problem to have, right? And today's #TiaraTuesday feather, The Fife Fringe Tiara is one of the latter.
Royal British Tiaras: The Fife Fringe Tiara
Princess Louise in her Fife Fringe Tiara.

There are tiaras that are instantly recognizable (we’ve featured several that fit into that category). And then there are tiaras who’s style was so fashionable “everyone” had to have one. But then, that made it hard to distinguish one from one another. Such an unfortunate problem to have, right? And today’s #TiaraTuesday feature, The Fife Fringe Tiara, is one of the latter.

Royal British Tiaras: The Fife Fringe Tiara
Given that the fringe or kokoshnik style was all the rage at the time, it’s easy to see why tiaras could be confused for one another. Top: The Fife Fringe. Bottom left: Queen Alexandra’s Kokoshnik. Bottom right: Queen Mary’s Fringe (which is the tiara in which the current Queen was married).

Case in point – when I posted a picture of it on Instagram right after viewing it at the Kensington Palace exhibition a couple of weeks ago, several folks assumed it was Queen Mary’s Fringe or Queen Alexandra’s Kokoshnik. And at first blush, they are hard to tell apart. But that’s because the fringe style was all the rage (they had fads and popular fashions too, you know).

Royal British Tiaras: The Fife Fringe Tiara
Princess Louise (left) wearing the Fife Fringe as a necklace with her grandmother, Queen Louise of Denmark (center) and her mother, Queen Alexandra (right).

So much so that when Princess Louise, the daughter of the soon-to-be King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, was getting married, her parents not only got her the tiara we’re focused on today, but her mother also ordered one of similar design for herself (Queen Alexandra’s Kokoshnik, which is shown in a photo above) to celebrate her silver wedding anniversary the year prior.

Royal British Tiaras: The Fife Fringe Tiara
Princess Louise wearing the Fife Fringe Tiara as a necklace.

Louise’s was ordered by her parents from Hancocks to celebrate the marriage of their daughter to the Earl of Fife (he was made a Duke by order of Queen Victoria immediately after the wedding) in 1889. It was apparently a favorite of the Princess’ because she wore it often. And as was the style with the fringe tiaras, it was able to be converted into a necklace and we have several photos of Louise wearing it in that fashion.

Royal British Tiaras: The Fife Fringe Tiara
The Fife Fringe Tiara

The tiara itself is comprised of several rays of pavé set diamonds, alternating in size and also graduating in height from the center back. It’s set in both white and yellow gold and circles the head about 3/4 of the way around.

Royal British Tiaras: The Fife Fringe Tiara
Caroline Dewar wearing what is thought to be the Fife Fringe Tiara when marrying the 3rd Duke of Fife in 1956.

Many had thought this tiara to have been auctioned off quite some time ago. But, surprise! The Fife family still owns it and has been nice enough to allow it to be on loan for a bit. It’s currently on display at Kensington Palace and let me tell you this, if you get the chance…. GO! Go see it along with two other stunning tiara’s (we’ll feature both of them over the next two weeks). It’s worth every penny of the price of admission (and you get to see the rest of the original royal apartment too).

My own photo of the Fife Fringe Tiara on display at Kensington Palace.

Now, what do you have to say about the Fife Fringe or the fringe style tiaras in general? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Comments

6 Responses

  1. The Fife fringe tiara was apparently worn by Caroline Bunting, now Duchess of Fife, at her wedding to the Earl of MacDuff, now Duke of Carnegie.

    Their son Charlie Carnegie, now styled Earl of Southesk, married his fiancee Camile Ascolinin Paris on 5 Sept 2020. The bride apparently wore the tiara which was taken off display for that purpose.

    So you can say it’s a bridal tiara for the wives of future dukes of Fife, after at least three generations of Fife brides wearing the tiara at their weddings.

    1. At least it’s still in use! That’s great news!! I hate when I hear that there are pieces that have been hidden away for decades or even longer. Thanks for reading and for your insight!

    2. Caroline Bunting wore the main Fife Tiara for her wedding, or at least the official photos, not the Fife Fringe Tiara. Caroline Dewar wore the Fife Fringe Tiara as shown above. It is unlikely that we’ll see any photos of the Earl of Southesk’s wedding. It was a small Covid wedding held at the family residence Kinnaird Castle, outside at what is called Montrose View. I’m sure it was beautiful, no matter the size.

  2. Oh my goodness. They are so very beautiful. I would love to see Kate wearing one of these. I don’t think there is a tiara that wouldn’t look stunning on her. I love looking at the old pictures of the ladies in their beautiful gowns and jewelry. Thank you so much for this wonderful site. I am totally hooked.

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