Sovereign's Orb

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The Orb

The Sovereign's Orb is a type of regalia known as a globus cruciger and is one of the British Crown Jewels.


Charles II posing with the Orb in 1661

It was created for the coronation of King Charles II in 1661 along with the Sceptre with the Cross and Ampulla.[1] The orb alone cost £1,150[2]—approximately £145 thousand, adjusted to 2010 values.[3]

The Orb is a hollow gold sphere weighing 42 ounces (1,200 g) and measuring about 16.5 centimetres (6.5 in) in diameter. Spanning the equator is a band of pearls and gemstones, with a similar half-band running across the top half of the Orb. Atop the Orb is an amethyst surmounted by a Cross. The Orb is a religious symbol that represents the Monarch's role as Defender of the Faith and as Supreme Governor of the Church of England. The Orb set under the cross signifies the belief that "the whole world is subject to the power and empire of Christ our that no man can reign happily who deriveth not his authority from him, and directeth not all his actions according to his laws."[4]

During a coronation, the Archbishop of Canterbury delivers the Orb to the Monarch's right hand. The Orb is then placed on an altar, where it remains for the remainder of the ceremony. At the end of the ceremony, the Monarch holds the Orb in the left hand, the Sceptre with the Cross in the right hand, and wears the Imperial State Crown as he or she leaves Westminster Abbey.

The shape and image of the Sovereign's Orb was parodied in the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail as the "Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch."



  1. ^ "The Crown Jewels". The British Monarchy. Retrieved 2010-10-17. 
  2. ^ Lawrence Officer. "Purchasing Power of British Pounds from 1264 to 2007". Retrieved 2008-05-09. 
  3. ^ UK CPI inflation numbers based on data available from Gregory Clark (2015), "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)" MeasuringWorth.
  4. ^ From the Coronation Service of King George IV, 1821 (reproduced from 'The Plain Englishman' vol 2, 1821, p371)


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