Crown Jewels: Princess Kate Made Tactful Tiara Choice, Let The Queen Sparkle

Duchess Kate Middleton is known for making stunning fashion choices, but her recent decision to wear the Lotus Flower tiara to the official State Dinner held for Chinese President Xi Jinping was more of a tactful decision than one of fashion.

Although to many, any sort of headpiece encrusted with diamonds is almost guaranteed to be a show-stopper, Duchess Kate chose this particular tiara, which she has worn before, as a deliberate attempt to allow her indomitable grandmother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth, sparkle.

Leslie Field, author of The Queen’s Jewels, explained the deliberation behind Duchess Kate’s choice in an interview with People magazine. As Field explained, the Lotus Flower tiara is only one of two that Duchess Kate has ever donned, and so it was more than just the delicacy of the piece that enabled Queen Elizabeth to take the spotlight. Doing so, Field explains, was absolutely the right choice for Duchess Kate.

This was not an occasion where Catherine should be the center of attention. If she had worn a tiara she had never worn before the press would all want to know about that. Her role is secondary – this is Her Majesty and the president of China at an extremely important state visit. It was tactful of everyone to not try and take the spotlight.

The Lotus tiara is also known as the Papyrus tiara, and it is considered one of the royal family’s “smaller” tiaras. But, for being a small piece, it has a lot of history. As Field explained, “It was worn by Princess Margaret when she was young and it has a youthful image. And it was originally the Queen Mother’s and she wore it as a young married woman as well.”

Lotus Flower tiara worn by other royalty
Indeed, Kate Middleton looked youthful as she entered the banquet, with her brunette hair literally crowned by the delicate tiara, wearing a stunning red dress with cap sleeves. Although some have questioned the idea of Kate Middleton wearing red to a State Dinner with China, Elizabeth Emanuel, who helped design Princess Diana’s wedding dress, believes that Kate Middleton’s choice was the right one, explaining to People that “red is very important as a statement in itself as it matches the color of the Chinese flag and it means good fortune.”

The dress itself, Emanuel says, is “elegant and graceful, which shows off her figure as well. Even after her second child, you can see she has the most beautiful figure.” As for Duchess Kate, she seems to have, once again, achieved style perfection, as far as Emanuel is concerned.

“She’s a young woman and the capped sleeves are perfectly appropriate and scooped neckline is elegant. Her hair in a chignon is beautiful as well. She just looks absolutely right for the occasion — glamorous but not over the top.”

As for the Queen, she did indeed sparkle, wearing her Modern Sapphire tiara. The Modern Sapphire tiara is referred to as such because it was commissioned by the monarch in the relatively modern times of the 1950s, in order to be paired with the stunning necklace of sapphires and diamonds with which she wore it last night. The necklace itself was made in 1850, and was a wedding gift from her father, King George VI. The Queen is known for being rather sentimental about her jewels, choosing only around 30 pieces repeatedly from the royal vaults, and this particular suite of jewelry is a reported favorite.

Queen Elizabeth often chooses to wear the Modern Sapphire tiara.
Both the Queen, bedecked in her undoubtedly royal, gleaming sapphires and diamonds, as well as Kate, with her more delicate and youthful Lotus flower tiara, looked absolutely stunning at the State Dinner.

What is the difference between a tiara and a crown? According to Holly Hardwick Crowns, which is Britain’s “leading provider” of such regal head wear, a crown is “traditionally and symbolically in the shape of a circle to represent infinity and power,” whereas a tiara is a semi-circular headpiece that covers the front of the head only. In addition, crowns are worn by both men and women, whereas tiaras are worn only by women.

[Photo by Max Mumby/Getty Images]