Coronet of Charles, Prince of Wales
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The Coronet of Charles, Prince of Wales is a part of the Honours of Wales. The gold-coated plastic coronet was made for and first used by Prince Charles at his investiture as Prince of Wales in 1969. Designed by Louis Osman, it was a gift from the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths to the prince's mother, Queen Elizabeth II. The coronet had been on loan to the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff from 1974 until 2011 when it was put into storage along with the other Welsh regalia at St James's Palace, London.
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 Crown Jewels from the country. Even seemingly legitimate uses of the Crown Jewels outside of the United Kingdom were precluded because of this law. For example, a new crown – the Imperial Crown of India – had to be made 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 taken overseas.
However, it was judged impractical to charge the ex-king with effectively stealing part of the Crown Jewels. The coronet was only returned to the United Kingdom following his death in 1972 and is now on display in the Jewel House at the Tower of London.
Since the traditional coronet was unavailable, and with the older Coronet of Frederick, Prince of Wales being judged unusable due to its 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.
The new princely coronet follows the form laid down by King Charles II in 1677 by having just one arch rather than the traditional two arches or four half-arches of British monarchs' crowns to show that the Prince of Wales is inferior to the monarch but outranks the other royal princes and dukes. Though based on this traditional design, the coronet has a futurist look that was popular in the 1960s and was created by the eccentric designer Louis Osman. Structurally, it is a platinum frame coated with two shades of gold.
In the centre of the arch is a monde engraved with the Prince of Wales's insignia by Malcolm Appleby, surmounted by a plain cross. Orbiting the monde are 13 square diamonds arranged as the constellation of Scorpio – the Prince of Wales's star sign. Within the 24-carat textured gold base is a purple velvet cap lined with ermine. The gold was mined in the Mawddach Valley in Merionethshire, and it was the last Welsh gold held in stock by Johnson Matthey. Around the base are four crosses and four abstract fleurs-de-lis in 22-carat gold sparsely decorated with diamonds and emeralds. In total, the coronet has 75 diamonds and 12 emeralds – green being the national colour of Wales – and weighs 1.36 kilograms (3 lb). It measures 26.5 centimetres (10.4 in) tall and 28.8 centimetres (11.3 in) in diameter at the widest point.
B. J. S. Electroplating Co., a leading precious-metal electroformers, was commissioned by the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths to make a fibreglass-reinforced polyester mould of a wax model of the coronet that Louis Osman had made using a wooden template. From this mould a negative epoxy resin cast was produced. B. J. S. involved Engelhard Industries to assist in the electroforming of the cast. David Mason was Head of Research at Engelhard and was assigned the task of doing the electroforming in the laboratories at the company's headquarters in the Forest of Dean. Until then, electroforming an object of that size had never been attempted anywhere in the world.
When Osman unveiled the coronet in London, he described it as "something that is modern". The Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths presented the coronet to Queen Elizabeth II for the investiture, which was held at Caernarfon Castle on 1 July 1969.
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. It was placed into storage at St James's Palace, London in 2011.
Princess of Wales
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.[a]
A princess who is the heir 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.[b] King George VI did though allow the heiress presumptive, Princess Elizabeth, to wear a coronet at his coronation in 1937.
- The Queen decided, in deference to public opinion regarding the late Diana, Princess of Wales, that Camilla would be referred to publicly as Duchess of Cornwall.
- 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's coronet at that time, nor of a formal patent granting the title.
- "Biography". The Prince of Wales. Archived from the original on 24 August 2010.
- Lelande Quick (1969). Lapidary Journal. 23. pp. 1366–1369.
- "Charles' coronet valued at $8,400". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. 2 July 1969. p. 5.
- The Prince of Wales's Coronet (1969) at the Royal Collection.
- "Prince of Wales' regalia 'should be displayed in Wales'". BBC News. 28 May 2013. Retrieved 1 July 2016.