Thursday, 11 April 2019

The Bedford Tiara

I've just finished reading an autobiography by Nicole, Duchess of Bedford, called Nicole Nobody.

Her Grace, second wife of the 13th Duke of Bedford, wrote it in 1974.

At that time they lived in the ancestral seat, Woburn Abbey, one of the very grandest houses in the British Isles.

They also had a London town-house in Chester Terrace.

The Bedford Jewels are renowned, particularly the famous Bedford Tiara.

About three months before she married the 13th Duke, Nicole was staying at her flat in Paris when Ian arrived (the 13th Duke didn't like his Christian name, John).

Ian discarded a brown carrier-bag onto Nicole's lap, which contained the exquisite tiara.

Woburn Abbey

It was made in the 18th century and once belonged to Caroline Bonaparte, Queen of Naples and sister of Napoléon.

The tiara comprises roses, thistles, and wheat, mounted on springs so that it quivers gently.

One evening, at a dance in Luton Hoo, the residence of Sir Harold and Lady Wernher, attended by members of the Royal Family, the Duchess of Bedford noticed that her tiara was grander than Her Majesty the Queen's.

Her Majesty approached the Duchess during the reception to have a closer look at it.

Incidentally, in 1970, when the Duchess reached 50 years of age, the 13th Duke bought her an Astrakhan brown Rolls-Royce Phantom VI, registration number DOB 1.

One luxury item fitted was a kind of "teasmade" (which cost £600, equivalent to about £9,000 today).

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