Imperial State Crown Replica

The Imperial State Crown is the most magnificent of all the Crown Regalia. It was made in 1838 for the Coronation of Queen Victoria, and then altered for the Coronation of George VI in 1937 and Elizabeth II in 1953. It is usually worn at the end of the coronation ceremony, when the newly-crowned monarch departs from Westminster Abbey. Although the crown is modern in design, it is set with very ancient gems.

The Black Prince’s Ruby is set into the central panel of the crown. The ruby looks like a clot of congealed blood. It is one of the most interesting and admired gems in existence.

Its history is mired in murder and bloodshed. It was first heard of in the mid-14th century, by which time it was already many centuries old. It was then owned by the Moorish Prince of Granada who was murdered by Peter of Castile (also known as Don Pedro the Cruel), who coveted the gem. Don Pedro then gave it to the Black Prince as a token of gratitude for his assistance at the Battle of Navarrette in 1367.

Item No:  60-007

On the Black Prince’s death, the ruby was passed down to his son Richard II, but it soon figured again in battle, this time in Agincourt in 1415, when Henry V wore it in his coronet. Seventy years later in 1485, Richard III wore it in his helmet at the Battle of Bosworth Field, where he lost the throne and his life. Legend has it that the ruby was concealed beneath a hawthorn bush. It is said to have been retrieved and placed on the head of the victor, Henry VII.

Under Oliver Cromwell, the jewels were melted down and destroyed. The Black Prince’s Ruby was bought by a jeweller who resold it to Charles II after the Restoration in 1660.

The Stuart Sapphire was set into the front of the crown by Charles II after the Restoration. It is now set into the back of the crown. This jewel has a rather romantic history. James II took it to France with him in 1688, when he was deposed, and for the next 100 years it belonged to the Stuarts. It was inherited by Henry Benedict Stuart, the Cardinal Duke of York, grandson of James II, and remained in his possession until 1807. The Stuart Sapphire was subsequently brought back to England on behalf of its rightful heir, George III. When, in 1810, the latter was declared unfit to reign, the treasure was inherited by his son, George IV. In 1814, he in turn gave it to his daughter, Princess Charlotte of Wales. Charlotte died in childbirth at the age of 21, whereupon George IV took back the jewel and presented it to one of his mistresses, the Marchioness of Conyngham. Lady Conyngham graciously returned the jewel when the king died in 1830.

In 1838, Queen Victoria had the sapphire set into her Imperial State Crown, at the front, below the Black Prince’s ruby. It was reset to the back of the crown in 1909 to make room for the Second Star of Africa, then the second largest diamond in the world.

The Cullinan diamond decorates the brow of the Imperial State Crown, just below the Black Prince’s Ruby. It was found in Africa in 1905, weighing 3601 carats – the largest diamond in the world. Later the Transvaal Government made a gift of the enormous stone to Edward VII who had it cut into several pieces. The largest piece, known as the Cullinan I (The Star of Africa) was set into the King’s sceptre, and the second largest – the Cullinan II (Second Star of Africa) was mounted to the front of the Imperial State Crown.

St. Edward’s sapphire is set into the Maltese Cross at the top of the Imperial State Crown. It is named after Edward the Confessor, who is said to have worn the stone in his ring. Legend has it that King Edward revered St John the Evangelist; he was also known for his generosity towards the poor. One day, on his way to Westminster, the king was accosted by a beggar and, having no money on his person, gave him the ring. Many years later, two pilgrims from the Holy Land returned the ring saying that it had been given to them by an old man who claimed to be John the Evangelist. The old man said he had received the ring as a gift from a King, many years earlier, when in beggar’s guise. He sent thanks to the king for his kindness, and said he would meet him in Paradise in six months’ time. Edward died exactly six months later, in 1066, and was buried with the recovered ring on his finger. When his coffin was opened two hundred years later, his body was found to be perfectly preserved. The Abbot of Westminster slipped the ring off his finger and it has remained part of the Crown Jewels ever since.

In addition, the Imperial State Crown also contains 4 rubies, 11 emeralds, 17 sapphires, 277 pearls and over 3000 diamonds.