A tiara with significant royal history was stolen from a stately home in Nottinghamshire on Tuesday, it has been confirmed. The Portland Tiara was housed on the Welbeck Estate in the county, and was crafted for Winifred, Duchess of Portland, to wear to the 1902 coronation of King Edward VII. The beautiful piece is centred on the stunning Portland diamond – which is flanked by two pear-shaped drop-diamonds and other pendant diamonds, all set in gold and silver – and police fear that it will be broken apart to sell the jewels off separately.
The Duchess of Portland wearing the tiara
A spokesperson for the estate told BBC News: "Security services missed the thieves by 90 seconds and the police arrived on the scene two minutes later." Nottinghamshire Police have confirmed that they are following a number of lines of enquiry but are focusing on a car that is believed to have been used by the thieves – a silver Audi S5 which was found burnt out nearby.
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Of course, the tiara was made at a time of great royal significance, when Britain was preparing for its first coronation in over fifty years after the death of Queen Victoria. The sixth Duke of Portland commissioned Cartier to make the new tiara for his wife, Winifred, to wear at the coronation in Westminster Abbey. The centerpiece of the tiara, the Portland Diamond, came from the family's collection.
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Winifred was in fact named as one of the four Duchesses who were canopy-bearers for the new Queen Alexandra as she was anointed, and the tiara can be seen in historic paintings from the ceremony. Richard Edgcumbe, curator of jewellery at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, has described the jewelled headpiece as "one of the great historic tiaras of Great Britain". A diamond brooch, made from stones removed from the original tiara design, was also stolen in the raid.