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Century-old royal tiara stolen after British guards ‘missed the thieves by 90 seconds’

Thieves stole the Portland Tiara — made for Winifred, Duchess of Portland, for King Edward VII’s coronation in 1902 — from the Welbeck Estate in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, British officials said.
Thieves stole the Portland Tiara — made for Winifred, Duchess of Portland, for King Edward VII’s coronation in 1902 — from the Welbeck Estate in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, British officials said. Nottinghamshire Police

The hunt is on for a century-old royal tiara used in the 1902 coronation of King Edward VII.

A spokesperson for the Welbeck Estate, where the Portland Tiara had been housed, told the BBC that the historic headpiece had been stolen in the middle of the night on Nov. 20.

Despite the ringing alarms at the estate — which is located in Worksop, Nottinghamshire — “security services missed the thieves by 90 seconds and the police arrived on the scene two minutes later,” the spokesperson said, according to the BBC.

It had been guarded in an armored display case, officials said, according to Royal Central.

A diamond brooch — “composed of diamond clusters that previously stood at the apex of the tiara” — was also stolen from the case, Nottinghamshire Police wrote in a press release.

Winifred Anna Dallas-Yorke, the Duchess of Portland, had first worn the tiara in 1902 for the coronation of Edward VII, and continued to wear it throughout her life at different royal events, according to The Vintage News. It’s been called a “national treasure” — and could be worth millions because of the diamonds that cover it.

The tiara “contained diamonds belonging to the family arranged in a scroll design and also featured larger diamond drops,” according to The Royal Central. The centerpiece, “which is set in gold and silver, is the Portland diamond which had belonged to the family since the 19th century.”

Richard Edgcumbe, Curator of Jewellery at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, said it is “one of the great historic tiaras of Great Britain,” according to the police press release.

“Since its creation by Cartier in 1902, using diamonds from the historic collections of the Dukes of Portland, it has been recognised as a jewel of supreme importance, a superb design magnificently executed,” Edgcumbe said, according to police.

On June 16, 2018, two suspects stole a tray of eight diamond rings, valued at $45,566, from the Elite Fine Jewelry Store located inside of the Pembroke Lakes Mall.

There are “a number lines of inquiry” about where the stolen tiara might have been taken, Nottinghamshire Police say, per BBC. James Lewis, an auctioneer, said it’s not possible for the thieves to sell the notable tiara as it is — but there is a way they could profit.

“The most horrendous thought is it could be something called a ‘breaker’,” Lewis told BBC, “where the diamonds are taken out and sold individually.”

But police wrote in a Facebook post they have at least one clue: a burned out silver Audi S5, which was found in the nearby town of Bildworth.

The car was found about half an hour after the heist at the Welbeck Estate, police said.

“If you have any information about this vehicle or the offence itself we’d urge you to please come forward and contact us as soon as possible,” the Nottinghamshire Police wrote on Facebook. “We’d also like to hear from any drivers who may have dash cam footage of this vehicle.”

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