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Inside Queen Elizabeth’s Royal Wedding Tiara Scare: ‘I Thought I’d Broken It’

When she married Prince Philip in 1947, Queen Elizabeth II thought she accidentally broke the headpiece she intended to wear down the aisle; the Queen Mary tiara. Turns out, the tiara's origins as a necklace led to the mishap. Ahead, find out what happened that allowed her to wear the tiara as planned.

No wedding, not even a royal wedding, is perfect.

Prince Charles forgot to kiss Princess Diana upon becoming husband and wife. And when their son, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge borrowed Charles’ beloved Aston Martin on his own wedding day, he accidentally drove it with the emergency brake on.

Heck, even Queen Elizabeth II’s wedding to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh had a few mishaps. Keep reading to learn what led to the queen believing she broke her wedding day tiara hours before the ceremony. 

Queen Elizabeth wed Prince Philip in 1947

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip on their wedding day
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip on their wedding day | Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

Before officially becoming the leader of the British royal family in 1953, the queen married Philip in an extravagant ceremony at London’s famed Westminster Abbey. The site of many royal weddings, the queen and Philip married on November 20, 1947, after the end of World War II. 

The couple secretly got engaged in 1946 and by the time their wedding came around at the end of 1947, the queen had turned 21. The bride walked down the aisle wearing a gown created by Norman Hartnell. 

Creating the garment only three months ahead of the ceremony, no one could tell looking at it that the gown came together so quickly. Queen Elizabeth’s gown featured floral beading, approximately 10,000 seed pearls, and a statement-making 15-foot train. 

Her tiara fell apart hours before the ceremony

Per royal etiquette about tiaras, the first time women are allowed to wear one is on their wedding day. For her nuptials, the queen selected a sentimental piece of jewelry that, at the time, belonged to her mother. 

She wed Philip wearing the Queen Mary fringe tiara. Originally, the tiara started out as a necklace. Only later did it become altered to work as both a necklace and a tiara. This is where the queen’s near-disaster comes into play. Hours before the ceremony, the tiara fell apart.

Queen Elizabeth II and Kate Middleton
Queen Elizabeth II and Kate Middleton | JOHN STILLWELL/AFP via Getty Images

According to Express, the queen recalled the story to Catherine while touring a royal wedding exhibit together. 

“The catch, which I didn’t know existed, it suddenly went,” the queen said. “And I didn’t know it was a necklace, you see … I thought I’d broken it … We stuck it all together again, but I was rather alarmed.”

A last-minute repair allowed Queen Elizabeth to wear the tiara

Per British Vogue, Garrard: The Crown Jewellers for 150 Years, tells the story of the tiara in detail. The bride’s mom, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, remained calm in the middle of the potential disaster. When the tiara appeared to fall apart, she reportedly said, “We have two hours and there are other tiaras.”

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip at their royal wedding
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip at their royal wedding | Keystone/Getty Images

In the end, the queen wore the tiara. With a police escort, the jeweler went to the Garrard workshop to do a last-minute repair on the tiara. Photos show the space between some of the diamonds on the tiara being slightly uneven, hinting at the hasty fix. Regardless of the mishap, the queen looked radiant!

Princess Anne and Princess Beatrice got married in the same tiara as Queen Elizabeth

After the queen famously wore the Queen Mary tiara on her wedding day, it would become the chosen tiara for other royal brides too. When her only daughter, Anne, Princess Royal, married Mark Phillips in 1973, she borrowed the same tiara.

More than 40 years later, another royal bride would wear the same headpiece. When the queen’s granddaughter, Princess Beatrice of York, wed Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi on July 17, 2020, she chose the Queen Mary tiara. 


Queen Elizabeth’s Stunningly Ornate Wedding Dress Had Surprisingly Humble Origins

We’ll have to wait and see who will be the next royal bride to wear the Queen Mary tiara.

RELATED: The Best (and Worst) Royal Weddings in History