In Episode 5 of Season 1 of The Crown, while getting dressed to see a ballet, Elizabeth tells Philip that she’s like him to come aboard her Coronation Committee.
“In which capacity?” he asks.
“As chairman,” she replies. And, as the lady’s maid snaps on a necklace around her neck, she goes on to say that she would ask the designated chairman, the Duke of Norfolk, to make room for him. “I want to make a public declaration of my trust in you,” she adds.
He calls it “matronizing”, the act of giving him something to do while she is “queening”.
The lady’s maid fixes a tiara on Elizabeth’s head, the scene shifts and the discussion about Philip’s role in the Coronation Committee continues.
What will it entail, he asks.
“The Duke of Norfolk will run the show from an organizational perspective, look after the seating, the root of the procession, but as Chairman of the Committee, you would have an input in ideas, inspire everyone, lead them,” she says.
Philip disagrees saying that the “grey old men” hate him and treat him as an outsider.
The truth is, if the subtitles had been off, I’d have missed half of the dialogue as I was too intent on staring at the tiara. I was so sure that it’s the tiara that the late Diana, Princess of Wales, often wore and I just had to do a little research to find out whether I was right or wrong.
I was wrong. The tiara that Diana was often photographed wearing is called the Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara. The tiara in Season 1 Episode 5 of The Crown is a replica of the Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara which has a pretty fascinating history.
Above, the real Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara. The pearls are detachable and they can be replaced with emeralds. The tiara can also be worn with neither pearls nor emeralds.
The Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara is so called because its original owner was Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, also known as Grand Duchess Vladimir, the wife of the Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich of Russia.
My Russian history is not very good and I can only trace family histories in reference to Tsar Nicholas II (yes, the father of Anastasia), the last emperor of Russia. So, to understand who Grand Duchess Vladimir was… Nicholas was the son of Tsar Alexander III whose legitimate siblings include the Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich. The Grand Duchess Vladimir was, therefore, the aunt-in-law of Nicholas II.
The Grand Duchess Vladimir did not like Empress Maria Feodorovna, the wife of Alexander III, and she held court at Vladimir Palace where she came to be known as one of the best hostesses in the Russian capital. The rivalry with Empress Maria Feodorovna also meant that she sought to outshine her with her jewelry. The tiara that is the subject of this post was custom made for her and it was only one item in what became a magnificent jewelry collection.
When the Bolshevik revolution broke out, the Grand Duchess Vladimir (her husband died some seven years prior) fled to Caucasus, a region near the Caspian Sea. She stayed there for a year hoping the political situation would improve so she and her family could go back to St. Petersburg and have her eldest son declared as Tsar.
But the Bolshevik revolution won and the Grand Duchess Vladimir and her family finally began journeying to Europe. And she brought her jewelry with her? No, the jewelry got left behind in St. Petersburg. A well-connected (and rather shady) antique art dealer named Bertie Stopford (who may have been an “unofficial” British Secret Agent) got the jewelry out of Russia.
How did the the tiara end up with the British royal family? After the death of the Grand Duchess Vladimir, the tiara went to her daughter, Princess Nicholas of Greece, who sold it to Queen Mary, grandmother of Elizabeth II.
Queen Mary had her jeweler modify the tiara so that the pearl drops could be interchanged with 15 pieces from the Cambridge emeralds.
The Cambridge emeralds have an interesting – and slightly juicy – past. They get their name from the Duchess of Cambridge – not the one we know today but Augusta of Hesse-Kassel, Queen Mary’s grandmother. Augusta and her husband Prince Adolphus, the Duke of Cambridge and one of the sons of King George III, entered a lottery for charity on a stop in Frankfurt and won. Their prize was a box of cabochon emeralds (which according to some may once have belonged to Indian royalty). There are conflicting sources on the exact number of emeralds in the prize, but between 30 and 40 is probably most accurate. [Source]
And that is the story of the Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara In Season 1 Episode 5 of The Crown.