Coronet of Charles, Prince of Wales

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His mother, HM Elizabeth II formally invests Charles with the Coronet of the Prince of Wales

The Coronet of Charles, Prince of Wales, is a coronet and part of the Honours of Wales and Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom. It was made for and first used by Prince Charles at his investiture as Prince of Wales in 1969.

Background[edit]

When the former King Edward VIII went into exile as the Duke of Windsor in 1936 (following his abdication), he took with him the Coronet of George, Prince of Wales, a highly controversial—and illegal—act. This coronet had been specially created for King George V, then Prince of Wales, and he wore it at his father's coronation in 1902. Edward, then Prince of Wales, wore it at the coronation of his father in 1911. When Edward was invested as Prince of Wales a new coronet was designed and used. The coronet, as part of the British Crown Jewels was protected under the law of the United Kingdom, which forbids removal of the British Crown Jewels from the United Kingdom under any circumstances. Even seemingly legitimate uses of the Crown Jewels outside of the United Kingdom were precluded because of this law. For example, a new crown – Imperial Crown of India – had to be manufactured for King George V to wear as Emperor of India at the Delhi Durbar because the Imperial State Crown, which he might normally have worn, could not be removed from the UK.

However, it was judged impractical to charge the ex-king with in effect stealing part of the crown jewels. The coronet was only returned to the United Kingdom following his death in 1972 and is now part of the Honours of the Principality of Wales.

Creation of the new coronet[edit]

The traditional coronet being unavailable, and with the older Coronet of Frederick, Prince of Wales being viewed unusable due to age, the only option was the creation of a new Prince of Wales coronet to be used for the investiture of the current heir apparent to the throne as Prince of Wales. (Charles had actually been created Prince of Wales in 1958 when he was nine years old, but the formal investiture ceremony was not held until a few months short of his 21st birthday.) [1]

Design[edit]

The new princely coronet followed regulation laid down by King Charles II in having just two half arches, rather than the traditional four half-arches of British crowns. In the centre of the single arch a globe is attached, over which a cross stands. Within the frame, which is made of gold, is a velvet cap lined with ermine fur. The coronet has one arch on comparison to the two arches of the sovereigns crown i.e. the Imperial State Crown or St Edward's Crown, to show that the Prince of Wales is inferior to the sovereign but outranks the royal dukes and princes.

The frame itself, though based on traditional design, has a futurist look that was popular in 1960s design. It was designed by the eccentric designer, Louis Osman.

Leslie Lewis the Managing Director of BJS Company (Kilburn, London) the leading UK precious metal electroformers was commissioned by the City of London livery company, the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths to make a plastic mould of the wax coronet model that Louis Osman had made on a wooden base. BJS involved Engelhard Industries (Cinderford, Glos.) to assist with the electroforming of the coronet.

David Mason was the Head of Research at Engelhard and was assigned the task of electroforming the gold coronet at the laboratories at the company's chemical headquarters in the Royal Forest of Dean. Research was being conducted on producing gold electroforms to be used in the electronics industry. When David Mason was asked by Louis Osman to attempt to electroform such a three-dimensional item as a coronet, nothing of such a size had every been attempted before anywhere in the world. The first coronet eventually produced was delivered to Louis Osman some weeks prior to the Investiture but disintegrated when the hallmark was stamped on the inside of the coronet. David Mason had to oversee a second coronet in pure gold which was used at the investiture. The orb atop the coronet was gold plated over a ping pong ball and the coronet still contains the ping pong ball inside a thick gold layer which Malcolm Appleby engraved prior to the orb being attached to the coronet.

The Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths presented the coronet to Queen Elizabeth II as a gift for the investiture, which was conducted at Caernarfon Castle on July 1, 1969.

Usage[edit]

The coronets or crowns of Princes of Wales are rarely used. It is unknown if the Coronet of Frederick, Prince of Wales, was ever actually worn by Frederick, and the Coronet of George, Prince of Wales, was only worn rarely by George, later King George V, and Edward, later King Edward VIII and then the Duke of Windsor. The current Prince of Wales has not worn his coronet since his investiture, though he could at any stage opt to do so.

The coronet was given on loan to the National Museum and Gallery of Wales by Queen Elizabeth II in 1974. It has also been seen on display in Cornwall.

Princess of Wales[edit]

While Queens consort wear a crown alongside the King, the wife of the Prince of Wales does not do so. So neither Diana, Princess of Wales, first wife of the current Prince of Wales, nor his current wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, possessed crowns.[1]

A princess who is the Heiress Presumptive to the British throne when there is no Heir Apparent, is not created Princess of Wales and so does not wear any of the Honours of the Principality of Wales.[2] King George VI did though allow the heiress presumptive, Princess Elizabeth, to wear a coronet at his coronation in 1937. There has never been an Heiress Apparent to the British throne, so the question of her investiture as Princess of Wales has never arisen.

Possible future usage[edit]

Since 1831, successive Queens consort of the United Kingdom have each had a new consort crown created for them. In contrast, only three Prince of Wales coronets exist. The 1911 coronet was worn by two Princes of Wales, and would probably have been used in 1969 had the Duke of Windsor (the previous holder of the title) not removed the crown from the United Kingdom and kept it among his private possessions. The future investiture of the next Prince of Wales could possibly use the Coronet of George, Prince of Wales (given that its relative youth and rare usage means that it is still suitable to be worn), the current Coronet of Charles, Prince of Wales, or a new coronet.

Footnote[edit]

  1. ^ The Queen decided, in deference to public opinion regarding the late Diana, Princess of Wales, that Camilla would not be referred to publicly as Princess of Wales, but only as Duchess of Cornwall.
  2. ^ The only possible exception occurred in 1525 when King Henry VIII gave his only surviving child to that point, Mary Tudor, certain Royal Prerogatives due to a Prince of Wales, including a Royal Court, and called her Princess of Wales. There is no record of either the existence of a Prince of Wales' coronet at that time, nor of a formal patent granting the title.[2]

References[edit]