When Princess Mary married Viscount Lascelles on February 22, 1922,
she received several wedding presents of emeralds and diamonds. The
most significant of these was the diamond and emerald tiara given
by 50,000 V.A.D.s' of the Empire.
The Voluntary Aid Detachment (V.A.D.) was created in 1909 when
the War Office issued the Scheme for Organisation of Voluntary Aid.
The British Red Cross Society was responsible for providing supplementary
aid to the Territorial Forces Medical Service in the event of war.
The county branches of the British Red Cross Society organized units
called Voluntary Aid Detachments. All Voluntary Aid Detachment members,
who became known as V.A.D.'s, were trained in first aid and nursing.
Within twelve months, membership was over 6,000 and at the outbreak
of World War I, membership grew significantly. V.A.D.'s worked as
nurses or orderlies at home and in all major theatres of war. They
also worked as ambulance drivers, cooks, kitchen maids, fundraisers,
clerks, et cetera.
In 1917, Princess Mary's expressed wish to be a V.A.D. was fulfilled.
"Lady Ampthill, Chairman of the Woman's V.A.D., was summoned
to consult with the Queen, and as a result of her visit a special
Voluntary Aid detachment was formed at Buckingham Palace. This detachment
was composed of Princess Mary as Commandant, Lady Grey as Assistant
Commandant, and about thirty members, all of whom were known personally
to Her Royal Highness." Princess Mary passed her first aid
and nursing courses with honours and she and her detachment worked
at the British Red Cross Headquarters at Devonshire House. She spent
time in each of the departments where she gained a thorough understanding
of the organization.
On April 25, 1918, Princess Mary came of age and was given permission
by Queen Mary to enter the Hospital for Sick Children in Great Ormond
Street, London as a V.A.D. probationary nurse where she began her
training in June 1918. Her training continued until April 1920 at
the Hospital. When her engagement was announced, the V.A.D.'s began
fundraising in order to purchase a suitable wedding present.
The item selected was a tiara of diamonds and emeralds supplied by
Hunt and Roskell. The Times described it as ". . . a beautiful
tiara in which a large central emerald is surrounded with diamonds,
the whole surmounted by a second emerald of a beautiful colour. The
ornament is arranged so that when the two small side sections are
detached it can be reversed and worn as a brooch."
the central element was sold at Christie's with the brooch fitting
detachable so it could be worn as a pendant. It sold for £5000.
Sources: The British Red Cross (http://www.redcross.org.uk/index.asp?id=3423);
Graham, Evelyn. Princess Mary, Viscountess Lascelles; The Graphic,
04 Mar 1922; The Times 11 Feb 1922; Christie's Important Jewels June
Special thanks to Laura!