The Tiara of Pope Paul VI was the last papal tiara worn to date. It was donated by the see of Milan when its cardinal, Giovanni Montini, was elected Pope Paul VI in the 1963 papal conclave. It was this tiara that was used to crown Pope Paul VI in 1963, which was the last papal coronation to date. Previously, the Palatine Tiara had been used in coronations since 1877.
Pope Paul's tiara was distinctive in many ways. As with some other papal tiaras, it was made of a solid silver exterior over a felt lay. Unlike other tiaras it was almost totally devoid of jewels, with the three crowns represented by three rings that ran around the tiara, on which sat a handful of small jewels in isolation. Though lacking in jewels, Pope Paul's tiara weighs 10 lb (4.5 kg) in contrast to the 2 lb (0.9 kg) weight of the previously-used Palatine Tiara.
Pope Paul wore his tiara a number of times in 1963, before, in a dramatic act in November 1963, laying it on the altar of St. Peter's Basilica in a gesture of humility to symbolise the papacy's surrender of any claim to temporal power. He never wore it again. It was announced that the tiara would be sold and the proceeds of the sale given to charity. However Francis Cardinal Spellman of New York intervened and arranged instead for the tiara to be bought by the Catholic Church in the United States in 1968.
Pope Paul's decision to decline to wear his papal tiara won both praise and condemnation. Liberals and Progressives praised the act as being in step with the "sign of the times" and marking a rebirth of a new, more informal papacy. In contrast Conservatives criticised the act as a betrayal of the traditional papacy. Fringe groups associated with sedevacantist and conclavist organisations suggested that only an antipope would "surrender" the symbol of the papacy in a photo-opportunity, with some groups using Pope Paul's actions as evidence that he was not the true pope.
Pope Paul, while choosing not to wear his tiara, nevertheless never abolished the use of papal tiaras, explicitly requiring in his 1975 Apostolic Constitution Romano Pontifici Eligendo that his successor be crowned. However his successor, Pope John Paul I, after a major argument, refused to wear any tiara. Neither Popes John Paul II nor Benedict XVI opted to wear a papal tiara, though the option remains that Benedict or his successors could do so if they so choose.
In 1963 the new pope, Pope Paul VI, chose to be crowned with his own tiara given to him by his former see rather than with the Palatine Tiara. (He also had a shorter rite of papal coronation than had previous popes.) He never wore any other tiara from the collection and in June 1963 formally renounced the wearing of a tiara for his papacy by placing his tiara on the altar of St. Peter's Basilica during the Second Vatican Council. However his own 1975 Apostolic Constitution Romano Pontifici Eligendo still envisaged incoronations for his successors.
In 1978, his immediate successor, Pope John Paul I, chose not be crowned, as did the next two, John Paul II and Benedict XVI. None of them ever wore a tiara. They thus let the custom fall into disuse. They did not prohibit it: it would be meaningless to do so, since any new pope could at any time undo such a prohibition and choose to be crowned (with the Palatine Tiara or any other tiara specially made or already existing) in the same way as Pope John Paul I chose not to be crowned.