Imperial State Crown

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Imperial State Crown
ImperialStateCrown.jpg
Version of the Imperial State Crown worn by George V, front view, showing the Black Prince's Ruby and the Second Star of Africa
Details
Used by  United Kingdom
Made 1937
Current owner Queen Elizabeth II (as Monarch)
Weight 0.91 kg
Arches Two
Cap Velvet, trimmed with Ermine
Notable stones Cullinan II, St. Edward's Sapphire, Black Prince's Ruby
Predecessors Imperial State Crown of Queen Victoria
Current, 1953 version viewed in profile, front at the left, with hint of magnificent sparkle effect that is often overwhelmed by photographic lighting

The Imperial State Crown is one of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom and symbolises the sovereignty of the monarch. The crown has existed in several versions since the 15th century. The modern version of the Imperial State Crown is of a design somewhat similar to that of St Edward's Crown, but shorter and encrusted with jewels: it includes a base of four crosses pattée alternating with four fleurs-de-lis, above which are four half-arches surmounted by a cross. Inside is a purple velvet cap with an ermine border. The Imperial State Crown includes many precious gems, including 2,868 diamonds, 273 pearls, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds, and 5 rubies. [1]

The crown includes several famous jewels: the cross at the top is set with a stone known as St. Edward's Sapphire, a sapphire taken from the ring (or possibly coronet) of Edward the Confessor; the Black Prince's Ruby (actually a spinel) is set on the front cross pattée; the famous Cullinan II, or Second Star of Africa, is set on the front of the band, replacing, in 1909, the 104-carat (20.8 g) Stuart Sapphire, which now sits at the back.[1] The crown also contains Queen Elizabeth’s Pearls.

The Crown is 31.5 centimetres (12.4 in) tall and weighs .91 kilograms (2.0 lb).[2] When not in use, it is kept with the other Crown Jewels on display at the Jewel House in the Tower of London.[2] The frames of the old Imperial State Crowns of Kings George I, George IV, and Queen Victoria, among others, are also kept in the Tower.

Portrait of King Charles I painted by Daniel Mytens in 1631, with a detailed depiction of the Tudor imperial crown at the side.

Historic versions[edit]

The original St. Edward's Crown, used at the coronation of English monarchs, was considered a holy relic, kept in the saint's shrine at Westminster Abbey, and therefore not worn by sovereigns at any other time. Instead, a "great crown" comprising a circlet of gold with crosses and fleurs-de-lys atop its rim, but without arches (an open crown), was a king's usual headgear on state occasions until the time of Henry V, who is depicted in statuary and illustrations with an "imperial crown", i.e., the great crown with gold arches added (also called a closed crown). Arches were a symbol of sovereignty, and by this point in history, the King of England was being celebrated as rex in regno suo est imperator (an emperor within his own domains), owing obedience to no one but God (unlike some continental rulers, who owed fealty to more powerful kings, or to the Holy Roman Emperor).[3]

Either Henry VII or his son and successor Henry VIII may have caused a somewhat more elaborate version of the imperial crown to be made, which is first described in detail in an inventory of royal jewels in 1521, and again in 1532, 1550, 1574, and 1597, and was carefully depicted in a painting by Daniel Mytens of King Charles I in 1631.[4] This Tudor version of the imperial crown had more pearls and jewels than are indicated in illustrations of the medieval version, and the centre petals of each of the five fleurs-de-lys were carved with medallions representing Christ, the Virgin Mary, and St. George.[4] The gold in the crown weighed 7 pounds, 6 ounces.[5]

After the execution of Charles I in 1649, the Tudor crown was destroyed and its valuable elements sold by parliamentary officers of the Commonwealth government. They received 180 pounds sterling for the gold, and about 1,000 pounds for the jewels, which included 58 rubies, 28 diamonds, 19 sapphires, 2 emeralds, and 168 pearls.[5][6] Upon the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, a new imperial crown was fashioned for his son and successor Charles II, and other versions were created for succeeding monarchs.[7] Yet another version was created for the coronation of the young Queen Victoria in 1838, which became the basis for the present crown.[7]

Modern version[edit]

Illustration of the Imperial State Crown in the configuration, with the Stuart Sapphire in front, used from 1838 to 1909, when Cullinan II was set, by Queen Victoria and King Edward VII. It now exists as a bare frame, with its stones removed, since being replaced in 1937.

The current Imperial State Crown was manufactured for the coronation of George VI in 1937 by the Crown Jewellers Garrard & Co.[8] It is a replica of the earlier Imperial State Crown (the illustration at right) manufactured for Queen Victoria, but is of a more lightweight design and more comfortable to wear. The same crown was remodelled for Queen Elizabeth II's coronation[8] to give it slightly more feminine appearance and its total height lowered by about 1 inch (25 mm).

Monarchs often choose to wear the Imperial State Crown in their private apartments on and off for a couple of hours prior to the State Opening of Parliament so they can get used to the weight and feel comfortable with it on. Paul Burrell reported witnessing, the night before a State Opening, the Queen working on the red government dispatch boxes while wearing it.[9]

As the most frequently worn royal crown, the Imperial State Crown has often been replaced, due to age, weight, the personal taste of the monarch, or the unavoidable damage that comes with use. It is also the crown that most often requires repair, which is normally done by the Crown Jeweller.

Use[edit]

The Imperial State Crown is generally worn at the end of a coronation when the new monarch departs from Westminster Abbey[7] and is not normally the crown used to crown the monarch. However, its predecessor (of the same name) was used to crown Queen Victoria and King Edward VII during their coronation ceremonies.

It is also worn annually by the Queen at the State Opening of Parliament.[7] Traditionally, the crown and other jewels leave in their own carriage and arrive at the Palace of Westminster prior to the Queen's departure from Buckingham Palace. They are then transported to the Robing Room, where the Queen dons her robes and puts on the crown.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b De Lacey, Martha (8 May 2013). "Two crowns, 3,000 gems, an 18ft robe... and a recycled dress: Queen Elizabeth II looks regal alongside Prince Philip at her 60th State Opening of Parliament". MailOnline (The Daily Mail). Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  2. ^ a b The Royal Household 2008, Gallery.
  3. ^ Hoak 2002, p. 54.
  4. ^ a b Hoak 2002, p. 86.
  5. ^ a b Hoak 2002, p. 86 footnote 76.
  6. ^ Hoak 2002, p. 87.
  7. ^ a b c d The Royal Household 2011, The Crown Jewels.
  8. ^ a b Garrard & Co staff 2012, heritage.
  9. ^ Burrell, P., A Royal Duty, Penguin Books (Australia), 2004. p.17

References[edit]

  • The Royal Household (September 2008). "The Crown Jewels: Gallery". The Official Website of the British Monarchy. Retrieved June 2012. 
  • Garrard & Co staff (2012). "Heritage". Garrard & Co. Retrieved June 2012. }
  • Hoak, Dale (2002) [1995]. "The Iconography of the Crown Imperial". Tudor Political Culture. Cambridge University Press. pp. 54, 8. ISBN 9780521520140. 
  • The Royal Household (8 August 2011). "The Crown Jewels". The Official Website of the British Monarchy. Retrieved June 2012. 

External links[edit]