Small diamond crown of Queen Victoria

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Queen Victoria, wearing her small diamond crown in 1887.

The small diamond crown of Queen Victoria is a miniature crown created at the request of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom in 1870. It was perhaps the crown most associated with Queen Victoria. Such was the association that it, and not either the traditional St. Edward's Crown or her own Imperial State Crown, was placed on her coffin before her funeral.

Origins[edit]

Following the death of Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Victoria's husband, in 1861, Queen Victoria withdrew from public life and wore widow's weeds, which she continued to wear until her death in 1901. Under government pressure she came back into public view in 1870. However she did not wish to wear her Imperial State Crown again, partly because she found it very heavy and uncomfortable to wear, and partly because it would have been impossible to wear with her mourning veil. The new small crown was created as a replacement. Because of its size it could be worn on top of her veil, so meeting both the ceremonial needs of the British monarchy and her own desired form of dress as a widow.

Design[edit]

Although diminutive, the crown follows standard design for British crowns. It is made up of four half-arches, which meet at a monde, on which sits a cross. Each half-arch runs from the monde down to a cross pattee along the band at the bottom. Between each cross pattee is a fleur-de-lis.

Because of its small size (9 centimetres across and 10 centimetres high) Victoria's small diamond crown possesses no internal cloth cap.

The crown was manufactured by R & S Garrard & Company.

A side view of Queen Victoria wearing her small diamond crown.

Jewels[edit]

The crown itself is made of silver. It contains 1,187 diamonds. Unlike coloured stones, these were seen as permissible to wear in mourning. The diamonds all came from a necklace owned by Queen Victoria.

Usage[edit]

Queen Victoria first used the new crown at the State Opening of Parliament in Westminster on 9 February 1871. It was worn by her on all state occasions after that date where she was required to wear a crown.

After Victoria[edit]

The small diamond crown had technically belonged to Queen Victoria personally, rather than to the British Crown, and thus was not part of the British Crown Jewels. In her will Victoria left it to the British Crown. It was subsequently worn on occasions by the Queen consort, Alexandra of Denmark (1901-1910) and after her by the next Queen consort, Mary of Teck. After the death of Mary's husband, George V, the crown ceased to be worn by her. When the new Queen consort, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon decided not to wear the small diamond crown, it was deposited in the Jewel House in the Tower of London in 1937, where it remains on show.