Crown Jewels: A look at the monarchy's most dazzling jewels

crown jewels
What are the Crown Jewels? Tim Graham - Getty Images

The Crown Jewels are the most complete collection of royal regalia, made up of orbs, sceptres, crowns, gold and silver-gilt banqueting, and an altar plate. With King Charles III's Coronation right around the corner, we take a look at the nation's most popular treasures — and see which ones are set to feature on the special day.

What are the Crown Jewels?

The Crown Jewels are safely kept in the Tower of London under the watchful eye of the Yeoman Warders. One of the richest expressions of sovereign magnificence, they span almost a thousand years and are continued to be used at coronation services and the State Opening of Parliament.

According to the Royal Collection Trust, most of the Crown Jewels were made for Charles II's coronation in 1661, and later added to at definitive moments during the history of the monarchy.

Sovereign's Orb

The Sovereign's Orb — symbolises the Christian world with its cross mounted on a globe — is mounted with clusters of emeralds, rubies and sapphires surrounded by rose-cut diamonds, and single rows of pearls. It also features bands of jewels dividing it up into three sections that represent the three continents known in medieval times.

At King Charles' Coronation, the Orb will be placed in the right hand of the King as he is invested with the symbols of sovereignty. It is then placed on the altar before the moment of crowning.

windsor, united kingdom september 19 embargoed for publication in uk newspapers until 24 hours after create date and time the sovereign's orb, sceptre and the imperial state crown sit on top of queen elizabeth ii's royal standard draped coffin at her committal service at st george's chapel, windsor castle on september 19, 2022 in windsor, england the committal service at st george's chapel, windsor castle, took place following the state funeral at westminster abbey a private burial in the king george vi memorial chapel followed queen elizabeth ii died at balmoral castle in scotland on september 8, 2022, and is succeeded by her eldest son, king charles iii photo by max mumbyindigogetty images
Max Mumby/Indigo - Getty Images

The Coronation Spoon

The Coronation Spoon is one of the oldest objects in the Crown Jewels. At the Coronation, the Spoon will be used to anoint King Charles with holy oil — the most sacred part of the Coronation ceremony.

According to Historic Royal Palaces, the "Coronation Spoon survived Parliament's destruction of the Crown Jewels in 1649 because it was bought by a man called Clement Kynnersley. Kynnersley had been an official of the royal wardrobe of Charles I, and was one of the commissioners who organised the sale of the late king's goods.

"After the Restoration in 1660, Kynnersley returned the Coronation Spoon to Charles II, no doubt hoping to win back royal favour".

the ampulla and coronation spoon used at the 1953 coronation of queen elizabeth ii
The Ampulla and Coronation Spoon used at the 1953 coronation of Queen Elizabeth IIPool - Getty Images

St Edward's Crown

King Charles III will wear the St Edward's Crown when he is officially declared as the King during his Coronation. This will be the first and only time that Charles will wear this particular crown. Made of solid gold and weighing five pounds, it contains 444 gemstones, including rubies, sapphires, garnets and tourmalines.

Key facts about St Edward's Crown include:

  • The solid gold frame weighs 2.23kg (nearly 5lbs) and is adorned with semi-precious stones. It has a velvet cap with an ermine band.

  • St Edward's Crown was made for the coronation of Charles II to replace the medieval crown melted down by parliamentarians in 1649, after the execution of King Charles I.

  • This lost medieval crown was said to have belonged to the 11th-century royal saint, King Edward the Confessor.

  • The crown was commissioned from the Royal Goldsmith, Robert Vyner, in 1661.

  • St Edward's Crown was last used for crowning Elizabeth II in 1953.

a picture shows st edwards crown, the crown used in coronations for english and later british monarchs, and one of the senior crown jewels of britain, during a service to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the coronation of queen elizabeth ii at westminster abbey in london on june 4, 2013 queen elizabeth ii marked the 60th anniversary of her coronation with a service at westminster abbey filled with references to the rainy day in 1953 when she was crowned afp photo pool jack hill photo by jack hill pool afp photo by jack hillpoolafp via getty images
JACK HILL - Getty Images

The Imperial State Crown

The Imperial State Crown, which appeared on Queen Elizabeth II's coffin, is made of gold and set with 2,868 diamonds, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds, 269 pearls, and four rubies. It contains some of the most famous jewels in the collection, such as the Black Prince's Ruby, the Stuart Sapphire, and the Cullinan II diamond. It was originally made for the coronation of King George VI in 1937, replacing the crown made for Queen Victoria in 1838.

The Crown will be worn by King Charles as he leaves Westminster Abbey and has also be used on other State occasions, including the annual State Opening of Parliament.

london, england september 19 the coffin of queen elizabeth ii with the imperial state crown resting on top, borne on the state gun carriage of the royal navy departs westminster abbey on september 19, 2022 in london, england elizabeth alexandra mary windsor was born in bruton street, mayfair, london on 21 april 1926 she married prince philip in 1947 and ascended the throne of the united kingdom and commonwealth on 6 february 1952 after the death of her father, king george vi queen elizabeth ii died at balmoral castle in scotland on september 8, 2022, and is succeeded by her eldest son, king charles iii photo by christopher furlonggetty images
Christopher Furlong - Getty Images

The Sovereign's Sceptre with Cross

The Sceptre, which has been used at every coronation since 1661, was transformed in 1910 for George V by the addition of the spectacular Cullinan I diamond — the largest colourless cut diamond in the world.

The Sceptre represents the sovereign's temporal power and is associated with good governance. It comprises a gold rod, formed in three sections, with enamelled collars at the intersections, surmounted by an enamelled heart-shaped structure. During the Coronation, King Charles will be presented with two sceptres. After the investiture, he will then be crowned.

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