Royal Crown Jewels

The Crown Jewels

The Crown Jewels are part of the Royal Collection and are one of the greatest attractions for tourists in the UK. Britain is the only country in Europe which still uses its crown jewels for coronations. They are part of our national treasure.

The Regalia are the ceremonial objects associated with the coronations of British monarchs. These symbolic articles are kept under close watch in the Tower of London in the Jewel House. The Queen opened the new exhibition in 1994. More recently, a re-presentation of the Crown Jewels was made at the Jewel House to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of HM The Queen. The Crown Jewels are being closely guarded by the Queen's Body Guard of the Yeomen of the Guard.

The Crown Jewels, also called the Regalia, consist of all the crown, sceptres and objects which have been used or will be used for the coronations of British Kings and Queens. There are also orbs, rings, robes and spurs on display in this wonderful exhibition.

History

It is a great shame that a lot of the original crown jewels were destroyed in 1649, on the order of Oliver Cromwell after King Charles I's execution, signifying the destruction of the monarchy. But during the Restoration of the Monarchy King Charles II ordered new crown jewels in time for his coronation in 1661, so a lot of the Regalia dates from 1660 onwards. It was modelled on the destroyed crowns and objects. They were previously kept at Westminster Abbey, but after some attempts to steal them, were found to be unsafe there. After the last attempt by Colonel Blood in 1671 no-one has ever succeeded in stealing the crown jewels.

So what does the exhibition consist of?

The Sovereign's Sceptre with Cross

Atop the Sovereign's Sceptre with Cross sits one of the most important jewels in the world: The magnificent Great Star of Africa which is the biggest ever cut diamond in the world. It was added to the sceptre in 1910. The sceptre itself dates from 1661.

St Edward's Crown

The St Edward's Crown is made from solid gold and dates from 1661. It was last worn by the Queen at her coronation in 1953 in Westminster Abbey. The crown was named after Edward the Confessor, who died in 1066, and was made a saint. It is set with sapphires, amethysts, tourmalines, citrines and topazes and weighs a hefty 2.23kg. It is used for the actual moment of coronation.

The Imperial State Crown

Imperial State Crown Imperial State Crown

The most famous of the crowns is the Imperial State Crown. This was re-made for the coronation of The Queen's father, King George VI, in 1937 because the old frame weakened under the weight of the gemstones. No wonder, it is set with over 3,000 gems including the diamond called the Second Star of Africa. The crown also contains sapphires, rubies and pearls. This crown is traditionally worn by the new monarch upon leaving Westminster Abbey after their coronation.

The Crown of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother

Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother's crown was made in 1937 and is set with 2,800 diamonds. It is set with another one of the most famous diamonds in the world, namely the Koh-i-Nûr. This gemstone was unearthed in India during Queen Victoria's reign.

The Coronation Spoon

The Coronation Spoon is the oldest object in the Regalia and has been used at coronation ceremonies for anointing monarchs with holy oil for 800 years. The spoon is made from silver-gilt. It survived being destroyed with the rest of the crown jewels in 1649 and has been restored and re-gilded over the centuries.

The Imperial Mantle

After the Anointing the Sovereign is traditionally given the cloth-of-gold Imperial mantle, which has the National Emblems woven into it.

The Ampulla

The Ampulla is the golden flask in the shape of an eagle. This flask contains the holy oil used for the anointing of the new monarch during the coronation ceremony. It dates from 1661.

The Sovereign's Orb

The Sovereign's Orb has a more religious meaning. It represents Christ's supremacy over the world.

Sceptres

The collection also contains two sceptres: The Sovereign's Sceptre with cross, which represents the monarch's temporal power under God and the Sceptre with Dove, which represents equity and mercy.

The Spurs

The Spurs represent knightly chivalry. The bracelets are called Armills and represent sincerity and wisdom.

The Swords

There are several ceremonial swords: the Sword of Temporal Justice, the Sword of Spiritual Justice and the Sword of Mercy. They survived Cromwell's destruction. The newest sword in the collection is the Sword of Offering which was especially made for George IV's coronation in 1821.There are many more royal objects in this fascinating exhibition and it is well worth a visit to see them.

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