LONDON – Meghan Markle hasn't said if she will wear a tiara at her upcoming royal wedding, but if she does she'll be able to choose from one of the world's most remarkable jewelry collections.
That's because Queen Elizabeth II, the grandmother of her husband-to-be Prince Harry, has hundreds of tiaras squirreled away in locked vaults, and royal tradition holds that the queen will let Markle borrow one of these sparkly heirlooms.
The bride's choice probably won't be known until May 19 when she walks down the aisle of St. George's Chapel to marry Harry and officially join the royal family. But some of London's most exclusive jewelers are devoutly hoping she won't turn her back on tiaras in favor of a more egalitarian look.
Markle, a 36-year-old American actress, is known for her contemporary fashion sense and could surprise everyone by skipping the tiara in favor of a less stately, more accessible look. But Omar Vaja, sales director at the renowned Bentley & Skinner jewelry shop in London, thinks she will follow tradition.
“Her style of dress is quite modern and casual,” said Vaja. “So she'll probably go for something that's small and modest. There's quite a lot to choose from. I think we're talking about hundreds of tiaras.”
Vaja and other jewelers in London's tony Mayfair district have a vested interest in seeing Markle carry forward the tiara tradition. He expects this royal wedding – like earlier ones – to spur interest in tiaras and other vintage treasures that his shop is known for.
Some believe Markle may choose to conspicuously pay tribute to Diana by wearing the Spencer tiara, which has a fanciful design of flowers decorated with diamonds in silver settings. On the day their engagement was announced, she and Harry spoke about their shared desire to invoke Diana's memory at the wedding.
There are plenty of other royal tiaras to consider as well, depending on what the queen decides to make available.
Markle might walk down the aisle in a striking tiara with Russian roots that features 15 interlaced diamond circles set off by large pearls.
The tiara is uniquely interchangeable –†the pearls can be taken out and replaced with emeralds.
Then there is the Oriental Circlet tiara, which is designed with diamond lotus flowers and wraps nearly all the way around the wearer's head. It was made for Queen Victoria in 1853 with opals to set off the diamonds, but the opals were later replaced with rubies.
Another option is Queen Mary's Fringe Tiara, which Elizabeth wore when she married Prince Philip in 1947 as the nation struggled to recover from the destruction of World War II.
That tiara was first worn by Queen Victoria in 1839. And it could be seen as a harbinger of good fortune for the new royal couple, as Elizabeth and Philip celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary last year.
One tiara Markle is not likely to wear is the famed Cartier Halo Tiara – a diamond-and-platinum masterpiece worn by her soon-to-be sister-in-law, Kate Middleton (now Duchess of Cambridge) when she married Prince William in 2011.