The Duchess of Cambridge wore something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue when she married Prince William on April 29. This got me thinking, where on earth did the tradition come from and why did Kate follow it? According to one wedding guide the tradition dates back to the time of Queen Victoria, but some of the customs referred are much older.
The saying is actually only part of an old English rhyme:
Something old, something new
Something borrowed, something blue
And a silver sixpence in your shoe
Not surprisingly, the items chosen are all symbolic:
“Something old represents continuity, says a wedding guide. “Something new offers optimism for the future; something borrowed symbolizes borrowed happiness; something blue stands for purity, love, and fidelity; and a sixpence in your shoe is a wish for good fortune and prosperity, although this remains largely a British custom.”
Below, how Kate followed the tradition.
- ”Something old”— The traditional Carrickmacross craftsmanship used to create the bridal gown, reports the Telegraph, is the “something old.”
- “Something new”—”The Bride’s earrings, by Robinson Pelham, are diamond-set stylised oak leaves with a pear shaped diamond set drop and a pavé set diamond acorn suspended in the centre,” say royal officials. “Inspiration for the design comes from the Middleton family’s new coat of arms, which includes acorns and oak leaves. The earrings were made to echo the tiara. The earrings were a personal gift to the Bride from her parents for her Wedding Day.”
- “Something Borrowed”—Kate Middleton (now the Duchess of Cambridge) walked down the aisle, her head was covered in a veil made of layers of soft, ivory silk tulle with a trim of handi-embroidered flowers, embroidered by the Royal School of Needlework, report royal officials.
The veil was topped by an absolutely stunning ‘halo’ tiara belonging to the Queen.
The 1936 tiara was made by Cartier and purchased by the Duke of York (later King George VI for his Duchess (later Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother) three weeks before he succeeded his brother as King. It was presented to Princess Elizabeth (now The Queen) by her mother on the occasion of her 18th birthday, says a statement by royal officials.
- ”Something blue“—A blue ribbon was sewn into the interior of Kate’s dress, reports the Telegraph.
Will Kate Middleton wear the Queen’s tiara on Friday?
A female gambler has placed a large bet at Ladbrokes in Egham that has led many to believe she has inside information about what tiara Kate Middleton will wear on Friday, reports the Mail.
“Ladbrokes, the bookmaker, has closed its book on the choice of headgear for the service after one customer bet £6,000 on the 180 year-old George III Tiara,”reports the Telegraph.
Alex Donohue, a spokesman for Ladbrokes told the Telegraph “As far as we are concerned when that sort of money starts getting thrown around it looks very much like a done deal.We usually take bets of £10 or £20 on a ‘fun market’ like this.”
And a spokesman for Ladbrokes said to the Mail “When someone walks in off the street and places a bet like that alarm bells start ringing. We have very strong suspicions that this is what she will be wearing on Friday. It was a lady, not the kind of person you’d see in a betting shop on any day of the week let alone a bank holiday. Asking for a bet in this market is very unusual, asking for a bet of £6,000 is unheard of.”
If the woman’s bet has any significance and we can hope to see the King George III Fringe Tiara released from the royal vault for the day, this would be greatly symbolic; the Queen’s decision would show the faith she has in Kate as a future royal, a true acceptance into the royal fold, as it is the tiara she herself wore upon her wedding day.
- E. Wolff & Co for Garrards, 1919
- Made of Diamonds, gold, silver
This tiara is also referred to as the “Hanoverian Fringe Tiara” or “Queen Mary’s Fringe Tiara” or “The Russian Fringe Tiara.
The George the III reference in the name of the tiara often used is thoroughly misleading:
“It is not, as has sometimes been claimed, made with diamonds that had belonged to George III” reports the website of the official royal collection, “but re-uses diamonds taken from a necklace/tiara purchased by Queen Victoria from Collingwood & Co as a wedding present for Queen Mary in 1893.”
The fringe tiara, which can also be worn as a necklace, was made for Queen Mary in 1919. In August 1936 Queen Mary gave the tiara to Queen Elizabeth, from whom it was borrowed by Princess Elizabeth for her wedding in 1947.”
Phil Noble/Getty Images
Kate Middleton at a lifeboat naming ceremony at RNLI Lifeboat Station in Anglesey, Wales.
Elspeth Lodge Mar 18, 2011 – 2:39 PM ET | Last Updated: Mar 18, 2011 3:47 PM ET
Speculation has been ramping up about The Dress for April 29′s royal wedding. But we have our mind on higher things: What about Kate Middleton’s sparkly tiara? And her hair? So many questions! We do our best to answer them. Below, all you need to know about royal wedding headgear.
A tiara? Seriously? In the twenty-first century?
Chances are Ms. Middleton will not forgo a tiara altogether: historically, all royal brides have worn tiaras on their wedding days.
Well, at least Kate can use her tiara as the “something old” portion of her wedding outfit.
Not necessarily. True, if the queen offers Kate Middleton a tiara from the royal vault to wear during her nuptials it will signify true acceptance into the royal fold, and the traditions associated with it. But the queen’s own sister was not given an heirloom headpiece to wear when she took her vows: “Princess Margaret, did not have a royal diadem for her wedding,” reports the Express. (Note: diadem is a fancy way to refer to royal tiaras). “The Poltimore tiara she wore was bought by the queen on advice from court officials and was sold after Margaret’s death.”
What sparkly headgear was donned by other royal brides?
The Queen has traditionally given royal brides a tiara for a wedding present. The tiara isn’t necessarily the same one worn on their big day. For example, Lady Diana Spencer wore the Spencer family tiara (below), which now belongs to her brother.
The Queen gave Sarah Ferguson a new tiara when she married Prince Andrew. Sophie Rhys-Jones also received a new tiara for her marriage to Prince Edward, although it was one made of elements allegedly recycled from one of Queen Victoria’s diadems.
Princess Diana didn’t wear the Cambridge Lover’s Knot diamond and pearl tiara given to her by the queen on her wedding day, but on later occasions. The silver, diamond and pearl tiara originally belonged to Queen Mary and was created by Gerrards in 1914 (the same designer of Kate’s ring, formerly Diana’s).
Many believe this tiara is a possibility for Kate if she is offered an heirloom tiara. It would further her connection to Diana, as Kate is already wearing Diana’s engagement ring.
There’s another catch, though — the tiara was returned to the Queen upon Diana’s death, but Camilla Parker-Bowles, Duchess of Cornwall, is now is entitled to wear the head piece when she chooses.
If the queen does offer up a tiara, what are her options?
The queen has many many tiaras stashed in the royal vault, but by process of deduction, based on aesthetics, the meaning behind each tiara, and Kate’s personal style, royal watchers have been able to separate the contenders from the pack.
One option could be the 19th-century Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara, which is made of diamonds and silver. “[A] wedding present for Princess Mary of Teck (later Queen Mary),” writes the BBC, it was “bought with money raised by a committee by Lady Eve Greville. This was in turn given to the Queen as a wedding present.”
“Princess Elizabeth (currently the Queen) on her wedding day wore the Fringe tiara originally made for her grandmother Queen Mary in 1919 – thus fulfilling the “something borrowed” bridal tradition,” says BBC. “The tiara, which can also be worn as a necklace, re-uses diamonds taken from a necklace/tiara purchased by Queen Victoria from Collingwood and Co. as a wedding present for the future Queen Mary in 1893.” If the Queen lets Kate wear this, it will be a sign of serious confidence in the new royal.
The Strathmore Rose diamond tiara was made around 1900 by Catchpole & Williams. Allegedly, The Earl if Strathmore gave it to his daughter ( Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, aka the Queen Mother) in 1923. The tiara is feminine and beautiful; there are five large diamond roses separated by diamond sprays. Additionally the diamond roses can be fashioned into brooches.
The Queen Mother’s Scroll Tiara is one the queen is rumoured to have worn on a number of occasions after she was married, but before she became queen. It has been lent by Elizabeth II to both Princess Margaret and Princess Annet.
The Queen Alexandra Russian Kokoshnik Tiara is said to be a favourite of the Queen’s. It belonged to Queen Alexandra (the wife of King Edward VII). The design was supposedly influenced by a Russian tiara of her sister’s (Empress Marie of Russia) and she commissioned Gerrard’s to make it. Rumour says it’s composed of sixty-one platinum bars and filled with 488 diamonds.
The Duchess of Teck Rose and Crescent Tiara has not been seen since the 1940′s. It was passed to Queen Mary by her mother: Princess Adelaide of Cambridge, Duchess of Teck. But royal watchers say it could be an option.
The County of Surrey Tiara hasn’t been seen by the public for a century, not since Queen Mary was the Princess Of Wales, so it will be a surprising and refreshing choice if Kate walks down the isle in it. “Stylistically it falls between the sweetness of Girls of Great Britain and Ireland and the spiked severity of the Fringe,” says a royal watcher. “The tiara was a gift to Queen Mary from the people of the County of Surrey upon the occasion of her marriage in 1893.”
Who’s made an educated guess?
The Huffington Post published a piece in February suggesting Ms. Middleton will wear an heirloom tiara on her wedding day, but, again, this is all speculation:
“Royal insiders told me that shortly after the engagement announcement on November 16, Catherine was invited to Buckingham Palace where the Queen had instructed that every tiara, along with other dazzling jewels from the royal vaults, be laid out for inspection in a ballroom. This was when Catherine chose the tiara she will wear on her wedding day.”
The Express writes that whether Ms. Middleton wears a tiara on the big day or not, she will need one in the future:
“As a future member of the Royal Family, Kate Middleton needs a tiara, not just for her wedding, but for state banquets like the one being organised for the Obamas’ visit in late May and for such important events as the State Opening of Parliament.”
Each tiara is steeped in history and meaning, so we can deduce that some would be more probable for Ms. Middleton to dawn on her wedding day than others.
What about a veil?
Ian Mcilgorm / AFP / Getty Images
Autumn Kelly 31 looks over her shoulder as she enter St George’s Chapel in Windsor on May 17, 2008 to be wed to Peter Phillips 30; the son bride of the son of Princess Anne. As is traditional, she wears the veil covering her face because she is marrying into the royal family.
Throughout history all royal brides have worn a veil, but those marrying into the royal family traditionally cover their face; those already in the royal family leave their face exposed: “Diana, Sarah Ferguson and Sophie, all brides who married into the royal family, just like Kate is about to, walked down the aisle with their veils concealing their faces,” says ABC. “It wasn’t until later in the ceremony, in Diana’s case after the vows, that their faces were revealed. But throughout history, no princess by birth has covered her face with a bridal veil.”
Hair up? Hair down?
The royal family may be slowly modernizing, but don’t get your hopes up for flowing locks — Richard Ward, Kate Middleton’s hair stylist, is expected to create a traditional up-do.
However, another British hairdresser, James Brown, has an entirely different vision for Kate, reports the Telegraph: “She will wear it up because of all the pressure she is under to do what she is expected to do,” he said, “but she would look better with it down.” He later said: “She has gorgeous hair and I just hope she brings her own personality to it.”
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