The Imperial State Crown
The Imperial State Crown has gone through many incarnations, from St Edward’s Crown to Henry VIII’s Crown to other versions made for succeeding monarchs. This current Imperial State Crown was made for the coronation of George VI in 1937. It was made by the Crown Jewellers, Garrard & Co to be an exact replica of the one made for Queen Victoria, but more lightweight and comfortable. It was remodelled for Elizabeth II, to make it appear more feminine.
The Imperial State Crown is used for the State Opening of Parliament and at the end of Coronations, to leave Westminster Abbey in. Because it is the most used of the crowns, it is the one that most often needs repairing or replacing, due to wear or the personal tastes of each monarch. Due to the weight of the crown, it is often worn on and off for a few hours before the State Opening of Parliament, to get the wearer used to the weight. Queen Elizabeth II has been known to eat her breakfast and read the morning papers wearing it.
The crown consists of a purple velvet cap, with an ermine border. On the outside is a base of four crosses pattée, alternating with four fleurs-de-lis, coming out of this are four half-arches which are topped with a cross. There are also many precious gems embedded in the crown, including 2,868 diamonds, 273 pearls, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds and 5 rubies. Some of these jewels are particularly famous ones, the cross on the top of the crown is set with St Edwards Sapphire, a sapphire which was taken from the ring of Edward the Confessor. Further it holds the Black Prince’s Ruby, the Cullinan II (also known as the Lesser Star of Africa), the 104 carat Stuart Sapphire and Queen Elizabeth’s Pearls. In total, the crown weighs 91 kilograms.
The Imperial State Crown can be viewed at the Tower of London, along with the frames of the older Imperial State Crowns of George I, George IV, Queen Victoria and others.