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How Much Julie Andrews's Princess Diaries Costume Was Actually Worth

"The Princess Diaries," based on the book series by Meg Cabot (which had a conclusion very different from the movie series), was a modern-day, Cinderella-style sleeper hit when it was released in 2001. Anne Hathaway, in her breakout role, plays invisible and awkward Mia Thermopolis, who has just found out that her deceased father was a prince of a (fictional) country called Genovia. Mia's life is upended when her grandmother Clarice, the queen of Genovia, wants to give her princess lessons before she decides whether or not to accept her birthright as the princess of the small European country. Queen Clarice is regally played by the veteran actress and icon Dame Julie Andrews.

The final scenes of the film take place at the Genovian embassy in San Francisco. Queen Clarice and her staff hold a social event at which Mia is to announce her decision, but naturally, a mishap or two prevents her from getting there on time. Throughout the gala, Clarice is wearing a glittering tiara and a jeweled necklace. After Mia arrives, soaking wet from the rain, and makes her announcement that she intends to accept the royal duties, Clarice also gives her a tiara to wear. 

Most would assume that the Queen's tiara was just a movie prop, but the jewels worn by Julie Andrews were real. Here's what we know about how much the items were really worth.

The Harry Winston jewels were worth $500,000

An August 2021 Buzzfeed article that spills the tea on wardrobe secrets from famous movies says that the jewelry Julie Andrews wore in those final scenes was worth $500,000 and was on loan from Harry Winston. It sources this information from a Grazia article. In fact, many articles over the past few years have quoted this amount, but there's no way to verify the exact value of Andrews' jewelry.

In 2012, Andrews told SFGate that she believed the tiaras she and Hathaway were wearing were both real and made for the film. "They were very good about making one for the older woman, the queen, and the other was a much younger-looking tiara. (During the shoot) I had a gentleman following me around everywhere in case somebody tried to snatch it," she said. 

However, she was mistaken about the worth of her co-star's crown. Hathaway's tiara has been preserved as part of the Walt Disney Archives, and a D23 article says that it contains white and yellow pear-shaped rhinestones, not real jewels.

Andrews believes the crown was worth more than $1 million

Given Julie Andrews had that information wrong, could she also be mistaken when she herself has estimated the price of the jewels she wore at a much higher price point?

In a 2001 news piece in the Phillippine Daily Inquirer, Andrews was quoted as saying, "That crown was worth over a million dollars. I learned fast how good it feels. There is such a difference between the real thing and the fake stuff. Real jewelry makes you shine and glow, I'm ashamed to say." She also shared the same anecdote that the jewels required her to have a bodyguard: "I had a bodyguard who was six paces behind me, no matter what I do. And the minute a filming day was finished, he would say, 'Excuse me, may I have them?'"

Andrews repeated this information in the commentary for "The Princess Diaries" DVD release, where she also confirmed that the diamonds were from Harry Winston and claimed that the jewels in the crown alone were worth more than $1 million. "They were gorgeous to wear, I have to tell you," she said. The late, great director Gary Marshall, in his own commentary on the scene, confirmed their provenance as being from Harry Winston, but only said they were worth "a fortune," opting to provide no numbers.

The Princess Diaries 2 featured jewelry worth even more

While the DVD commentary confirms that Anne Hathaway didn't get to wear real jewels in "The Princess Diaries," "The Princess Diaries 2" was a different story. 

The jewels that appeared in the sequel were from the luxury jeweler Chopard. "I was told that the engagement ring, now that it has been in the film, was priceless," Hathaway told People. "And during the coronation scene, I wore this ginormous, kind of rocked-out necklace, which Sharon Osbourne later wore to the Oscars. And I went up to her and said, 'You are wearing my necklace ...' And she said, 'No, dah-ling, it is Chopard's.' But then I believe they turned it into a tiara that is worth about $3 million."

Like her on-screen grandmother in the first film, Hathaway had to tolerate a bodyguard to protect all that ice. "The guard with the gun made me most uncomfortable. But he was really nice. His name was Steven," she said. 

A story about princesses and queens naturally needs its share of crown jewels. Should a third movie ever come to light, fans are definitely going to want to hear more about what jewels Andrews and Hathaway don as members of the royal family of Genovia.