Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Prominent Features of the Imperial State Crown

Queen Elizabeth II wears State Imperial Crown
at the State Opening of Parliament.
Photo Credit: The Royal Firm
In 1937, the Imperial State Crown had weakened and fallen into disrepair from its constant use. That year it was remade, and in its current state is home to over 3,000 diamonds, as well as many other precious gems including rubies, emeralds, sapphires, and pearls.

It features four fleur-di-lis with rubies as centerpieces, alternating with four cross pattee, three of which are inlaid with centerpiece emeralds. From these four crosses rise diamond-paved half-arches accented with pearl acorns, which commence at a diamond-studded monde on which a Maltese cross rests regally.

This uppermost cross has as its centerpiece the first of four of the most famous gemstones in the British Collection, St. Edward's Sapphire. Moving down the arch from the monde, we come to the second famous gemstone, the Black Prince’s Ruby. This infamous spinel serves as the centerpiece for the central cross pattee.

The band of the Imperial State Crown features a delicate, nearly floral design in which the central pieces are alternating emeralds and sapphires, two of which also claim the title of famous gemstones. Just beneath the Black Prince’s Ruby rests the Cullinan II, the fourth-largest polished diamond in the world. Finally, opposite the Cullinan II on the back of the band, the Stuart Sapphire rests beneath a cross pattee.

Clearly priceless in its historical significance, the Imperial State Crown remains a piece of the British Regalia, the coronation ceremony jewels. Traditionally, it is used during the coronation ceremony and historically was worn by the Sovereign for the Opening of Parliament each year. However, unless she wears two different crowns for different parts of the ceremony, it appears that Queen Elizabeth II has favored the George IV State Diadem for the Opening of Parliament.


1. Official Website of the British Monarchy, The. "The Crown Jewels." Accessed June 11, 2012.
2. Royal Exhibitions. "St Edward's Crown." Accessed June 11, 2012.

*Clip art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

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