St Edward's Crown

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St Edward's Crown
St. Edwards Krone (Nachbildung auf den Bahamas).jpg
A replica of St Edward's Crown
Heraldic depictions
Crown of Saint Edward (Heraldry).svg
Made 1661
Current owner HM Government
Primary material Gold
Predecessors King Alfred's Crown (Alleged)
Tudor Crown (in Heraldry)

St Edward's Crown is one of the oldest of British Crown Jewels and is considered the principal piece of the Regalia,[1] being the coronation crown traditionally used in the coronation of first English, then British, monarchs, including Queen Elizabeth II, who now reigns as the monarch of 16 independent Commonwealth realms. The crown takes its name from St Edward the Confessor, although the present crown is in fact a reconstruction made for the coronation of King Charles II in 1661, following the destruction of its medieval predecessor during the Interregnum by order of Oliver Cromwell. Two-dimensional representations of the crown are used in coats of arms, badges, and various other insignia throughout the Commonwealth realms to indicate the authority of the reigning sovereign, reflecting the executive governmental authority in and of each realm.

Physical version[edit]

Medieval crown or crowns[edit]

The original crown of Edward the Confessor was worn by him at Christmas in 1065.[2] It may have incorporated material from a crown of Alfred the Great.[3] In 1066, on Christmas Day, St Edward's crown was reputedly used in the coronation of King William I in token of his inheritance by right rather than conquest.[4] It was used subsequently for the coronations of King William II (1087), King Henry I (1100), King Stephen (1135), King Henry II (1154), King Richard I (1189 and 1194), and King John (1199).[5]

In 1216, at the first coronation of King Henry III, a chaplet was employed instead of the crown.[6] From this it was inferred by the German historian Reinhold Pauli[7] that the original St Edward's Crown had been among the crown jewels lost by King John. However Arthur Penrhyn Stanley maintained that the original crown and regalia were kept in the Treasury of Westminster until the time of King Henry VIII, and survived until 1642.[8] The crown was reputedly used in 1533 for the coronation of Anne Boleyn.[9] The medieval crown was destroyed by Oliver Cromwell's order during the English Civil War.

The present form[edit]

Following the Restoration of Charles II in 1660, the crown was re-created by Sir Robert Viner for the king's coronation in April 1661. In 1671 it was stolen for a short period by Thomas Blood, who flattened it with a mallet in an attempt to conceal it.

The present St Edward's Crown contains much of the crown made in 1661. It is constructed of solid gold. The design comprises a base, with four crosses pattée alternating with four fleurs-de-lis, above which rise four half-arches surmounted by a monde and cross, all set with 444 precious stones. Within this gold frame there is a velvet cap with an ermine border, which protrudes below the base. The stones were formerly hired for each coronation and then detached, leaving only the frame. However, in 1911 the jewels were set permanently. A number of changes were made for the coronations of King James II (a new monde) and King William III (the base being changed from its original circular form to a more natural oval one). The crown was also made slightly smaller to fit the head of King George V, the first monarch to be crowned with St. Edward's Crown in over two hundred years. The crown was, however, carried in procession at other coronations at which it was not actually worn.

Queen Victoria and King Edward VII chose not to be crowned with St Edward's Crown because of its weight of 4 lb 12 oz (2.2 kg) and instead used the lighter Imperial State Crown. St. Edward's Crown was placed on the coffin of Edward VII for his lying in state and funeral in 1910, and was used for the coronation of his crowned successors; Kings George V in 1911 and George VI in 1937 and at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. On 4 June 2013, it was displayed on the altar in Westminster Abbey at the sixtieth anniversary service of the Queen's coronation—the first time it had left the Tower of London since 1953.

Use at coronations[edit]

Although always regarded as the "official" coronation crown, in fact, only a minority of monarchs have been crowned with the re-made St. Edward's Crown. These were Charles II (1661), James II (1685), William III (1689), George V (1911), George VI (1937) and Elizabeth II (1953). All other English and British monarchs were crowned with other crowns: Queens Mary II and Anne with small diamond crowns of their own; Kings George I, George II, George III, and William IV with George I's new state crown; King George IV with a large new diamond crown; and Queen Victoria and King Edward VII with Victoria's 1838 Imperial State Crown. Before 1649, many monarchs were crowned with the original St. Edward's Crown, though they often had several crowns placed on their head during the ceremony.

Symbolic version[edit]

The Coat of Arms of New Zealand is surmounted by a depiction of St. Edward's Crown

Though the physical St Edward's Crown is property of the Queen in Right of the United Kingdom, its two-dimensional representation has come to be utilised throughout all the Commonwealth realms as an indication of each country's respective royal or governmental authority. Thus it appears on coats of arms, badges for military and police units, rank insignia of senior non-commissioned officers of the British armed forces, senior commissioned officers of the British Army and Royal Marines, and of senior police officers, and logos for government departments and private organizations with royal associations. In these contexts, it replaced the Tudor Crown in 1953 by the command of Elizabeth II.[10][11] Such use of the crown is only by the personal permission of the sovereign.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Crown Jewels". The Official Website of the British Monarchy. The Royal Household. Retrieved 25 July 2013. 
  2. ^ Cambridge 'Life of St Edward the Confessor' (Norman-French, c.1245) in H.R. Luard (Ed.), Lives of Edward the Confessor Rolls Series (London 1858). Also, Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, Historical Memorials of Westminster Abbey (4th, Revised Edition) (John Murray, London 1876), p.27.
  3. ^ King-Hall, Stephen (1936). The Crowning of the King and Queen. London: Evans Brothers. p. 4. 
  4. ^ Stanley 1876, p.42-44.
  5. ^ Stanley 1876, 47-53.
  6. ^ Stanley 1876, 53.
  7. ^ Reinhold Pauli, 'Continuation of Johann Martin Lappenberg's Geschichte von England, 1154-1509', Henry II to Henry VII', (Gotha 1853-1858)), p. 489: cited by Stanley 1876, p. 54.
  8. ^ Stanley 1876, pp.45, 458-459
  9. ^ Hunt, Alice (10 November 2008). The Drama of Coronation: Medieval Ceremony in Early Modern England. London: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-88539-3. 
  10. ^ Department of Canadian Heritage 2008, p. 2
  11. ^ "An Armorial of Canada > The Royal Arms of Canada". Royal Heraldry Society of Canada. Retrieved 25 September 2009. 
  12. ^ Department of Canadian Heritage. "Ceremonial and Canadian Symbols Promotion > The crown in Canada > The Royal Crown". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved 24 September 2009. 

External links[edit]