The Queen, Kate Middleton, and the Duchess of Cornwall wore tiaras to a Buckingham Palace reception. Here's why only some members of the royal family are allowed to wear them

Victoria Jones/ WPA Pool/ Getty ImagesHer Majesty the Queen and the Duchess of Cambridge at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday evening.
  • The Duchess of Cambridge, the Queen, and the Duchess of Cornwall wore tiaras to an evening reception at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday.
  • It wasn’t the first time the royal ladies have worn the regal accessory, however, you might have noticed they only wear them on certain occasions.
  • There are rules surrounding which members of the royal family are allowed to wear one – and when and where they’re allowed to wear it.
  • We asked royal experts to break down the etiquette surrounding the use of tiaras and crowns in the royal family.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

It’s easy to assume that tiaras and crowns are reserved for royalty, but there are even rules surrounding which members of the royal family are allowed to wear one – and when and where they’re allowed to wear it.

The Duchess of Cambridge, the Queen, and the Duchess of Cornwall wore tiaras to an evening reception at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday.

Kate middleton, prince william, camillaVictoria Jones/ WPA Pool/ Getty Images.Prince William, Kate Middleton, and the Duchess of Cornwall were in attendance.

Middleton opted for Princess Diana’s Lover’s Knot tiara, one she has chosen to wear to several other receptions and State Banquets throughout the years.

She paired the tiara with a necklace borrowed from the Queen, and an Alexander McQueen evening dress.

Kate middleton december 2019Victoria Jones/ WPA Pool/ Getty ImagesMiddleton wore an Alexander McQueen gown.

The Queen paired her Vladimir tiara with a matching emerald necklace, while Camilla wore hers with a pearl necklace and drop earrings.

Queen tiara dec 2019Victoria Jones/ WPA Pool/ Getty ImagesQueen Elizabeth II.

Meanwhile, Meghan Markle and Princess Eugenie both wore tiaras borrowed from the Queen on their wedding days – but this doesn’t mean they can sport one any time they please.

Similarly, despite popular belief, it’s not just the Queen who is allowed to wear a crown.

Insider spoke to royal experts Grant Harrold and Richard Fitzwilliams about the ins and outs of tiara and crown etiquette – and it’s certainly pretty old-school.

You have to be married or hold a certain royal title to wear a tiara

Meghan Markle tiaraMax Mumby/ Indigo/ Getty ImagesMeghan Markle wore a $US600,000 tiara for her royal wedding.

According to etiquette expert and former royal butler Grant Harrold, there are two types of women who can wear tiaras: those who are married, and those who are born princesses.

Harrold, a director at the Royal School of Etiquette, told Insider: ‘Traditionally, tiaras are a sign of marriage. So typically they could be worn by a bride on her wedding day, or after she is married, she can wear one to any white tie event.

“Single ladies don’t typically wear tiaras, unless they are born into the Royal Family as a princess.”

Therefore, if the royals are following this tradition, those who married into the family, such as Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle, are entitled to wear one.

Kate Middleton wedding tiaraChris Jackson/Getty ImagesKate Middleton wore this tiara, borrowed from the Queen, for her 2011 nuptials.

Middleton was first seen wearing a tiara at her wedding to Prince William in 2011. Since then, she’s been photographed wearing them on multiple occasions.

Traditionally, single royals who weren’t born with the title of princess don’t wear a tiara.

Lady Gabriella Windsor is the daughter of Prince Michael of Kent, the first cousin of the Queen. But despite being born the daughter of a prince, Gabriella was not given the title of a princess.

Lady GabriellaDavid M. Benett/ Getty ImagesLady Gabriella Windsor and Thomas Kingston.

The royal was photographed wearing a tiara for the first time at her royal wedding to Thomas Kingston earlier this year – an indicator that this rule could hold true.

However, we cannot be certain how much weight these older traditions hold, as they have never been confirmed by a member of the family.

Royals can only wear tiaras after a certain time of day

ReutersPrincess Eugenie wed Jack Brooksbank in 2018.

Simply being married or being a princess doesn’t give royal ladies free rein to wear tiaras whenever they please. They must only be worn at a particular time and place, according to royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams, former editor of “The International Who’s Who.”

Fitzwilliams told Insider: “Tradition dictates that tiaras are not worn before 6 p.m., though weddings are an exception. They are worn on formal white tie events and state occasions such as state banquets. The decision on whether to wear a tiara is linked to the dress code of a particular event and also to personal preference.”

This seems to be a tradition the royals are following through on, as other than at her wedding Middleton has only ever worn a tiara to white tie events.

Kate Middleton   state dinnerJohn Stillwell/ WPA Pool/ Getty ImagesKate Middleton wearing Queen Mary’s Lover’s Knot tiara.

She made headlines after wearing Princess Diana’s Lover’s Knot tiara to a state banquet at Buckingham Palace in 2018. She wore the same tiara at a state banquet with Donald Trump earlier this year.

Anyone in the royal family can wear a crown, but they are often saved for one particular event

Queen Elizabeth II at BerlinSean Gallup/ Getty ImagesQueen Elizabeth II has worn many tiaras and crowns during her reign.

Many believe that the Queen is the only royal who is allowed to wear a crown.

However, other royals are allowed to wear coronets, which is a small crown often worn at a coronation – and they don’t have to be the monarch to do it. In fact, Her Majesty wore one long before she became Queen.

In the 1937 photo below, the newly crowned King George VI and the Queen Mother both wore crowns, alongside Princess Margaret and our future Queen, the then-titled Princess Elizabeth, who both wore coronets.

King George VI coronationUniversal History Archive/ UIG via GettyKing George VI and Queen Elizabeth with the king’s mother, Mary of Teck, and Princess Margaret and Princess Elizabeth.

Similarly, Prince Charles was spotted wearing a gold coronet during his investiture in 1969.

The newly-titled Prince of Wales was photographed taking a carriage ride with the Queen after the ceremony at Caermarfon Castle.

Prince Charles investitureKeystone-France/ Gamma-Keystone via Getty ImagesPrince of Charles with Queen Elizabeth II after his investiture.

Despite celebrating the 50th anniversary of his investiture in March, Charles has not worn a crown since.

“While princesses can wear tiaras, dukes and earls can wear coronets. You can see them all wearing them in pictures of the Queen’s coronation – all the males were wearing them,” Harrold explained.

“From what I know, male aristocracy only wear coronets at coronations. Prince Charles hasn’t worn the golden coronet since his investiture in 1969.”

So that settles it – while you may have assumed royals can wear crowns or tiaras without limitation, like everything, there is a set time, place, and occasion.

Read more:

Kate Middleton was spotted wearing one of Princess Diana’s favourite tiaras – and she looks stunning

Kate Middleton wore a mermaid gown with one of Princess Diana’s tiaras and she looked like a real-life Cinderella

Meghan Markle said the Queen helped her choose her diamond and platinum wedding tiara, and bent the rules to let her bring Prince Harry too

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