We’ve all seen heists in popular films, but no one expects them to be actually taking place in real life in 2018. But lo and behold, on November 20 the Royal Portland Tiara, belonging to the British royal family, was stolen from its display case in Nottinghamshire, England.
As reported by Bustle, the massive tiara was being kept at the Portland Collection Gallery at the Welbeck Estate in Worksop, Nottinghamshire. On Tuesday night that week, shortly before 10 pm, a group of thieves armed with power tools was able to break through the glass case that the tiara was displayed in.
While they proceeded to steal the tiara and a diamond brooch made from the same jewels as the tiara, alarms blared in the background, and police were quickly dispatched to the location. Unfortunately, security guards at the Welbeck Estate were unable to enter the gallery room before the thieves made their escape.
“Security services missed the thieves by 90 seconds and the police arrived on the scene two minutes later,” a spokesperson for the Welbeck Estate said of the robbery.
The thieves escaped in what is believed to be a silver Audi S5, which was later found abandoned and burnt approximately a 30-minute drive away from the estate, and with no hint as to where they fled to next.
— BBC East Midlands (@bbcemt) November 23, 2018
Police are at present trying to follow the lead of the car, but are utterly flummoxed by the robbery.
Jewelry curators consider the tiara to be “one of the greatest historic tiaras of the nation.” As a result, it will be near impossible for the thieves to sell the piece, given the wide police search for it.
“It could be worth millions — but it is such a well-known piece it can’t come up for public sale,” James Lewis from Bamford auctioneers told the BBC. “The most horrendous thought is it could be something called a ‘breaker’, where the diamonds are taken out and sold individually.”
The tiara was commissioned for Winifred, Duchess of Portland, to wear to the 1902 coronation of King Edward VII. Winifred was named as one of the four Duchesses who was to be a canopy-bearer for Alexandra, King Edward’s wife, during the ceremony in Westminster Abbey where she was to be anointed.
Her husband commissioned Cartier to create a masterpiece that would be worthy of the honor of the occasion. The centerpiece diamond came from the Portland family collection, and the tiara features diamond drops and pendant diamonds across the loops on the head of the crown.