Why Princess Eugenie Chose an Unexpected Wedding Tiara

The heirloom emerald and diamond tiara served as her "something borrowed" from the Queen.
joyce chen wedding news expert the knot
by
Joyce Chen
joyce chen wedding news expert the knot
Joyce Chen
Wedding News Contributor
  • Joyce writes articles for The Knot Worldwide, specializing in celebrity wedding features and pieces on wedding trends and etiquette
  • Joyce conducts interviews with real couples about how they’ve adapted to the challenges of wedding planning during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic
  • In addition to The Knot Worldwide, Joyce also regularly contributes writing to Architectural Digest, Paste magazine, Refinery29, and TODAY.com
Updated Nov 02, 2021

Princess Eugenie made many bold statements for her 2018 wedding to Jack Brooksbank. She wore a custom-designed Peter Pilotto wedding dress that showed off her childhood scoliosis scar; she didn't select a traditional long veil, as is customary for royal weddings; and she borrowed the Greville Emerald Kokoshnik tiara from her grandmother, the Queen. Royal fans had initially speculated that the Princess of York might don the York Diamond tiara, the same one her mother, Sarah Ferguson, wore on her own wedding day in 1986. But in a show of modernity and self-determination, Princess Eugenie instead chose to wear the Queen's stunning diamond and emerald headpiece for her nuptials at Windsor Castle.

Which Tiara Did Princess Eugenie Wear on Her Wedding Day?

The Greville Emerald Kokoshnik tiara was so named because it was originally created by Parisian jewelry house Boucheron for British socialite Dame Margaret Greville in 1919, and because it was modeled after the fashionable "kokoshnik" style made popular by the Russian Imperial Court in the early 20th century. Greville was close with the royal family, and so it made sense that she left the stunning bandeau tiara to Queen Elizabeth upon her death in 1942. When the Queen Mother passed in 2002, the emerald tiara was then bequeathed to her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II.

The diadem consists of brilliant and pavé, rose-cut diamonds set in platinum. Six emeralds are spaced evenly on either side of a very large 93.7-carat emerald center stone. Princess Eugenie opted to let the tiara take center stage, keeping her hair in a simple, loose chignon and forgoing a veil; her only other accessory was a pair of matching diamond and emerald drop earrings, a wedding gift from the groom.

Who Else Has Worn the Greville Emerald Kokoshnik Tiara?

Of the Queen's many royal wedding tiaras, the Greville Emerald Kokoshnik tiara is one of the least commonly worn in public. (By contrast, Queen Mary's Cambridge Lover's Knot tiara is a favorite of Kate Middleton's, and has made many appearances over the years, as has the Queen Mary Fringe tiara.) Prior to Princess Eugenie's decision to don the diamond-and-emerald diadem, the Greville Emerald Kokoshnik tiara last made headlines after Meghan Markle was rumored to have chosen it as her first choice tiara for her wedding to Prince Harry. According to reports, Queen Elizabeth rejected Meghan's request, steering her toward the Queen Mary Bandeau tiara instead. Though it remains unclear whether or not that awkward interaction actually took place, what is certain is that royal fans were already well-aware of the emerald tiara prior to Princess Eugenie's wedding.

Surprising Facts About Princess Eugenie's Wedding Tiara

While the majority of royal fans focused on Princess Eugenie's eye-catching, statement-making Peter Pilotto wedding dress (and her impeccable second wedding gown, a blush pink silk Zac Posen number), there is actually also plenty to know about the Greville Emerald Kokoshnik tiara. For starters, the tiara may just be the most expensive royal wedding tiara that Queen Elizabeth has loaned out in recent memory, worth even more than the Queen Mary Bandeau tiara that the Duchess of Sussex wore earlier that year and the Queen Mary Fringe tiara that Eugenie's sister, Princess Beatrice, would don nearly two years later. Below are a few more fun facts about the royal heirloom, which will now forever be linked to Princess Eugenie of York's big day.

The Greville Emerald Kokoshnik tiara is one of the few royal wedding tiaras with colored gemstones.

One interesting feature that distinguishes Princess Eugenie's tiara from other royal brides' diadems is the fact that it prominently showcases a colored gemstone: the emerald. Most other royal tiaras have remained largely diamond-centric: the Cartier Halo tiara Kate Middleton wore for her wedding to Prince William was entirely comprised of diamonds, as was Meghan Markle's bandeau tiara, though the latter actually featured a detachable centerpiece brooch that has sometimes been spotted with a sapphire in the middle.

Princess Eugenie set a trend with her tiara choice.

Historically, the kokoshnik is a traditional Russian head ornament characterized by a broad band that sits high on the wearer's forehead. Princess Eugenie's wedding tiara revitalized this style and inspired fashion house Chanel to introduce two new kokoshnik-shaped tiaras into its high jewelry collection the following year: the Sarafane, a diamond-and-pearl headpiece that transforms into a necklace, and the "Ble Maria" tiara, a modified kokoshnik comprised of yellow gold, pink spinels, Mandarin garnets and colored tourmalines.

Her wedding was the first time she'd ever worn a tiara.

Though ardent fans of the royal family are likely familiar with this tradition, it is still worth noting that the Greville Emerald Kokoshnik tiara was the first one that Princess Eugenie had ever worn. In the royal family, tiaras are customarily reserved for married women.

There have been exceptions throughout history, of course: Queen Elizabeth's only daughter, Princess Anne, wore one while attending the state opening of Parliament years before she wed her first husband, Mark Phillips, in November 1973. The Queen's sister, Princess Margaret, was frequently spotted with one on her head even before she married Antony Armstrong-Jones in 1960. Her favorite was the Cartier Halo tiara, which the Duchess of Cambridge would wear decades later for her wedding to Prince William.

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