St Edward's Crown
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St Edward's Crown is the centrepiece of the
Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom The Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom, originally the Crown Jewels of England, are a collection of royal ceremonial objects kept in the Tower of London which include the Coronation of the British monarch, coronation regalia and vestments worn ...
. Named after Saint
Edward the Confessor Edward the Confessor ; la, Eduardus Confessor , ; ( 1003 – 5 January 1066) was one of the last Anglo-Saxon English kings. Usually considered the last king of the House of Wessex, he ruled from 1042 to 1066. Edward was the son of Æthel ...
, versions of it have traditionally been used to crown English and British monarchs at their coronations since the 13th century. The original crown was a holy relic kept at
Westminster Abbey Westminster Abbey, formally titled the Collegiate Church of Saint Peter at Westminster, is an historic, mainly Gothic architecture, Gothic Church (building), church in the City of Westminster, London, England, just to the west of the Palace of ...
, Edward's burial place, until the regalia were either sold or melted down when Parliament abolished the monarchy in 1649, during the
English Civil War The English Civil War (1642–1651) was a series of civil wars and political machinations between Parliamentarians ("Roundheads") and Royalists led by Charles I ("Cavaliers"), mainly over the manner of Kingdom of England, England's governanc ...
. The current St Edward's Crown was made for Charles II in 1661. It is solid gold, tall, weighs , and is decorated with 444 precious and semi-precious stones. The crown is similar in weight and overall appearance to the original, but its arches are
Baroque The Baroque (, ; ) is a Style (visual arts), style of Baroque architecture, architecture, Baroque music, music, Baroque dance, dance, Baroque painting, painting, Baroque sculpture, sculpture, poetry, and other arts that flourished in Europe from ...
. After 1689, it was not used to crown any monarch for over 200 years. In 1911, the tradition was revived by George V and has continued ever since. In 1953, Elizabeth II opted for a stylised image of this crown to be used on coats of arms and other insignia in
Commonwealth realm A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state in the Commonwealth of Nations whose monarch and head of state is shared among the other realms. Each realm functions as an independent state, equal with the other realms and nations of the Commonwealt ...
s to symbolise her royal authority. St Edward's Crown is normally on public display in the Jewel House at the
Tower of London The Tower of London, officially His Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London. It lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, which is separa ...
. In December 2022 it was removed for remodelling prior to the Coronation of Charles III on 6 May 2023.


Description

St Edward's Crown is 22-carat gold, with a circumference of , measures tall, and weighs . It has four
fleurs-de-lis The fleur-de-lis, also spelled fleur-de-lys (plural ''fleurs-de-lis'' or ''fleurs-de-lys''), is a lily (in French, and mean 'flower' and 'lily' respectively) that is used as a decorative design or symbol. The fleur-de-lis has been used in the ...
alternating with four crosses pattée, which support two dipped arches topped by a
monde A ''monde'', meaning 'world' in French language, French, is an wikt:orb#English, orb located near the top of a crown (headgear), crown. It represents, as the name suggests, the world that the monarch rules. It is the point at which a crown's h ...
and cross pattée. Its purple velvet cap is trimmed with ermine. The crown features 444 precious and semi-precious stones, including 345 rose-cut aquamarines, 37 white
topaz Topaz is a silicate mineral of aluminium and fluorine with the chemical formula aluminium, Alsilicon, Sioxygen, O(fluorine, F,hydroxide, OH). It is used as a gemstone in jewelry and other adornments. Common topaz in its natural state is colorle ...
es, 27
tourmaline Tourmaline ( ) is a crystalline A crystal or crystalline solid is a solid material whose constituents (such as atoms, molecules, or ions) are arranged in a highly ordered microscopic structure, forming a crystal lattice that extends in ...
s, 12
rubies A ruby is a pinkish red to blood-red colored gemstone A gemstone (also called a fine gem, jewel, precious stone, or semiprecious stone) is a piece of mineral crystal which, in cut and polished form, is used to make jewellery, jewelry or ...
, 7
amethyst Amethyst is a violet (color), violet variety of quartz. The name comes from the Koine Greek αμέθυστος ''amethystos'' from α- ''a-'', "not" and μεθύσκω (Ancient Greek) / μεθώ (Modern Greek), "intoxicate", a reference to t ...
s, 6
sapphire Sapphire is a precious gemstone, a variety of the mineral corundum, consisting of aluminium oxide () with trace amounts of elements such as iron, titanium, chromium, vanadium, or magnesium. The name sapphire is derived via the Latin "sapphir ...
s, 2
jargoon Jargoon or jargon (occasionally in old writings jargounce and jacounce) is a name applied by gemologists to those zircon Zircon () is a mineral belonging to the group of nesosilicates and is a source of the metal zirconium. Its chemical nam ...
s, 1
garnet Garnets () are a group of silicate minerals that have been used since the Bronze Age as gemstones and abrasives. All species of garnets possess similar physical properties and crystal forms, but differ in chemical composition. The different spe ...
, 1
spinel Spinel () is the magnesium/aluminium member of the larger spinel group of minerals. It has the formula in the cubic crystal system. Its name comes from the Latin word , which means ''spine'' in reference to its pointed crystals. Properties Sp ...
and 1
carbuncle A carbuncle is a cluster of boils caused by bacterial infection, most commonly with ''Staphylococcus aureus'' or ''Streptococcus pyogenes''. The presence of a carbuncle is a sign that the immune system is active and fighting the infection. The ...
.


Usage

Although it is regarded as the official coronation crown, only six monarchs have been crowned with St Edward's Crown since the Restoration: Charles II (1661), James II (1685), William III (1689),
George V George V (George Frederick Ernest Albert; 3 June 1865 – 20 January 1936) was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India, from 6 May 1910 until his death in 1936. Born during the reign of his grandmother Q ...
(1911), George VI (1937) and Elizabeth II (1953). Mary II and Anne were crowned with small diamond crowns of their own; George I, George II, George III and William IV with the State Crown of George I; George IV with a large new diamond crown made specially for the occasion; and
Queen Victoria Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria; 24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901) was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until Death and state funeral of Queen Victoria, her death in 1901. Her reign of 63 years and 21 ...
and Edward VII chose not to use St Edward's Crown because of its weight and instead used the lighter 1838
Imperial State Crown The Imperial State Crown is one of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom and symbolises the sovereignty of the monarch. It has existed in various forms since the 15th century. The current version was made in 1937 and is worn by the monarc ...
. When not used to crown the monarch, St Edward's Crown rested on the high altar; however, it did not feature at all in Queen Victoria's coronation.


In heraldry

St Edward's Crown is widely used as a
heraldic Heraldry is a discipline relating to the design, display and study of armorial bearings (known as armory), as well as related disciplines, such as vexillology, together with the study of ceremony, Imperial, royal and noble ranks, rank and genealo ...
emblem of the United Kingdom, being incorporated into a multitude of emblems and insignia. As the United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy with responsible government, the crown can also symbolise "the sovereignty (or authority) of the monarch." During the reign of
Elizabeth II Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; 21 April 1926 – 8 September 2022) was Queen of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms from 6 February 1952 until Death and state funeral of Elizabeth II, her death in 2022. She was queen ...
it was found on, amongst others, the Royal Cypher; the
Royal Arms of the United Kingdom The royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom, or the royal arms for short, is the arms of dominion of the British monarch, currently King Charles III. These arms are used by the King in his official capacity as monarch of the United Kingdom. Varian ...
; the Royal Badges of England; and the badges of the police forces of England and Wales,
NHS ambulance services National Health Service ambulance services provide Publicly funded health care, free at the point of use Emergency Medical Services, emergency medical care to any person requiring treatment, regardless of immigration or visitor status, within the U ...
,
His Majesty's Coastguard His Majesty's Coastguard (HMCG) is a section of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency responsible, through the Secretary of State for Transport to Parliament, for the initiation and co-ordination of all maritime search and rescue (SAR) within the ...
, the
British Army The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a country in Europe, off the north-western ...
, the
Royal Marines The Corps of Royal Marines (RM), also known as the Royal Marines Commandos, are the UK's special operations capable commando force, amphibious warfare, amphibious light infantry and also one of the :Fighting Arms of the Royal Navy, five fighti ...
, the
Royal Air Force The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the United Kingdom's Air force, air and space force. It was formed towards the end of the World War I, First World War on 1 April 1918, becoming the first independent air force in the world, by regrouping the Royal ...
and
HM Revenue and Customs HM Revenue and Customs (His Majesty's Revenue and Customs, or HMRC) is a non-ministerial government department, non-ministerial Departments of the United Kingdom Government, department of the His Majesty's Government, UK Government responsible fo ...
. It also formed the logo of
Royal Mail International Distributions Services plc (formerly Royal Mail plc), trading as Royal Mail, is a British multinational mail, postal service and courier company, originally established in 1516 as a government department. The company's subsidiary Roya ...
, the United Kingdom's postal service. (In
Scotland Scotland (, ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. Covering the northern third of the island of Great Britain, mainland Scotland has a Anglo-Scottish border, border with England to the southeast ...
, the
Crown of Scotland The Crown of Scotland ( gd, Crùn na h-Alba) is the crown that was used at the coronation of the monarchs of Scotland. It is the oldest surviving crown in the British Isles and dates from at least 1503, although it has been claimed that the cir ...
may appear in place of St Edward's Crown). Following the death of Queen
Elizabeth II Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; 21 April 1926 – 8 September 2022) was Queen of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms from 6 February 1952 until Death and state funeral of Elizabeth II, her death in 2022. She was queen ...
, the design of King
Charles III Charles III (Charles Philip Arthur George; born 14 November 1948) is King of the United Kingdom and the 14 other Commonwealth realms. He was the longest-serving heir apparent and Prince of Wales and, at age 73, became the oldest person to a ...
's royal cypher was announced in September 2022, which featured the
Tudor Crown The Tudor Crown, also known as Henry VIII's Crown, was the imperial and state crown of English monarchs from around the time of Henry VIII Henry VIII (28 June 149128 January 1547) was King of England from 22 April 1509 until his death ...
rather than the St Edward’s Crown. According to the
College of Arms The College of Arms, or Heralds' College, is a royal corporation consisting of professional Officer of Arms, officers of arms, with jurisdiction over England, Wales, Northern Ireland and some Commonwealth realms. The heralds are appointed by the ...
, it is envisioned that the Tudor Crown will now be used in representations of the Royal Arms, badges and military uniforms.


History


Origin

Edward the Confessor Edward the Confessor ; la, Eduardus Confessor , ; ( 1003 – 5 January 1066) was one of the last Anglo-Saxon English kings. Usually considered the last king of the House of Wessex, he ruled from 1042 to 1066. Edward was the son of Æthel ...
wore his crown at
Easter Easter,Traditional names for the feast in English are "Easter Day", as in the ''Book of Common Prayer''; "Easter Sunday", used by James Ussher''The Whole Works of the Most Rev. James Ussher, Volume 4'') and Samuel Pepys''The Diary of Samuel ...
,
Whitsun Whitsun (also Whitsunday or Whit Sunday) is the name used in Britain, and other countries among Anglicans and Methodists, for the Christian High Holy Day of Pentecost. It is the seventh Sunday after Easter, which commemorates the descent of the Ho ...
, and
Christmas Christmas is an annual festival commemorating Nativity of Jesus, the birth of Jesus, Jesus Christ, observed primarily on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people Observance of Christmas by country, around t ...
. In 1161, he was made a saint, and objects connected with his reign became
holy relics In religion, a relic is an object or article of religious significance from the past. It usually consists of the physical remains of a saint or the personal effects of the saint or venerated person preserved for purposes of veneration Venerat ...
. The monks at his burial place of
Westminster Abbey Westminster Abbey, formally titled the Collegiate Church of Saint Peter at Westminster, is an historic, mainly Gothic architecture, Gothic Church (building), church in the City of Westminster, London, England, just to the west of the Palace of ...
claimed that Edward had asked them to look after his regalia in perpetuity for the coronations of all future English kings.Keay, pp. 18–20. Although the claim is likely to have been an exercise in self-promotion on the abbey's part, and some of the regalia probably had been taken from Edward's grave when he was reinterred there, it became accepted as fact, thereby establishing the first known set of hereditary coronation regalia in Europe. A crown referred to as St Edward's Crown is first recorded as having been used for the coronation of Henry III in 1220, and it appears to be the same crown worn by Edward. Ronald Lightbown in Blair, vol. 1. pp. 257–353.


Holy relic

An early description of the crown is "King Alfred's Crown of gold wire-work set with slight stones and two little bells", weighing and valued at £248 in total. It was sometimes called
King Alfred Alfred the Great (alt. Ælfred 848/849 – 26 October 899) was King of the West Saxons from 871 to 886, and King of the Anglo-Saxons from 886 until his death in 899. He was the youngest son of King Æthelwulf and his first wife Osburh, who ...
's Crown because of an inscription on the lid of its box, which, translated from Latin, read: "This is the chief crown of the two, with which were crowned Kings Alfred, Edward and others". However, there is no evidence to support the belief that it dated from Alfred's time, and in the coronation order it always has been referred to as St Edward's Crown. St Edward's Crown rarely left Westminster Abbey, but when Richard II was forced to abdicate in 1399, he had the crown brought to the Tower of London, where he symbolically handed it to Henry IV, saying "I present and give to you this crown with which I was crowned King of England and all the rights dependent on it". It was used in 1533 to crown the second wife of Henry VIII,
Anne Boleyn Anne Boleyn (; 1501 or 1507 – 19 May 1536) was List of English royal consorts, Queen of England from 1533 to 1536, as the Wives of Henry VIII, second wife of King Henry VIII. The circumstances of her marriage and of her execution by behe ...
, which was unprecedented for a queen consort. In the Tudor period, three crowns were placed on the heads of monarchs at a coronation: St Edward's Crown, the
state crown A state crown is the working crown (headgear), crown worn or used by a monarch on recurring state occasions such as when State Opening of Parliament, opening Parliament in Britain, as opposed to the coronation crown with which they would be formal ...
, and a "rich crown" made specially for the king or queen. After the
English Reformation The English Reformation took place in 16th-century England when the Church of England broke away from the authority of the pope and the Catholic Church. These events were part of the wider European Protestant Reformation, a religious and poli ...
, the new
Church of England The Church of England (C of E) is the State religion, established List of Christian denominations, Christian church in England and the mother church of the international Anglican Communion. It traces its history to the Christian church record ...
denounced the veneration of medieval relics and, starting with the coronation of
Edward VI Edward VI (12 October 1537 – 6 July 1553) was King of England and King of Ireland, Ireland from 28 January 1547 until his death in 1553. He was crowned on 20 February 1547 at the age of nine. Edward was the son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour ...
in 1547, the significance of St Edward's Crown as a holy relic was played down in the ceremony.Ronald Lightbown in MacGregor, p. 257. During the
English Civil War The English Civil War (1642–1651) was a series of civil wars and political machinations between Parliamentarians ("Roundheads") and Royalists led by Charles I ("Cavaliers"), mainly over the manner of Kingdom of England, England's governanc ...
, Parliament sold the medieval St Edward's Crown, regarded by
Oliver Cromwell Oliver Cromwell (25 April 15993 September 1658) was an English politician and military officer who is widely regarded as one of the most important statesmen in History of England, English history. He came to prominence during the 1639 to 1651 ...
as symbolic of the "detestable rule of kings".


Restoration

The monarchy was restored in 1660 and in preparation for the coronation of Charles II, who had been living in exile abroad, a new St Edward's Crown was supplied by the Royal Goldsmith, Sir Robert Vyner. It was fashioned to closely resemble the medieval crown, with a heavy gold base and clusters of semi-precious stones, but the arches are decidedly
Baroque The Baroque (, ; ) is a Style (visual arts), style of Baroque architecture, architecture, Baroque music, music, Baroque dance, dance, Baroque painting, painting, Baroque sculpture, sculpture, poetry, and other arts that flourished in Europe from ...
. In the late 20th century, it was assumed to incorporate gold from the original St Edward's Crown, as they are almost identical in weight, and no invoice was produced for the materials in 1661. A crown was also displayed at the lying in state of
Oliver Cromwell Oliver Cromwell (25 April 15993 September 1658) was an English politician and military officer who is widely regarded as one of the most important statesmen in History of England, English history. He came to prominence during the 1639 to 1651 ...
, Lord Protector of England from 1653 until 1658. On the weight of this evidence, writer and historian Martin Holmes, in a 1959 paper for '' Archaeologia'', concluded that in the time of the
Interregnum An interregnum (plural interregna or interregnums) is a period of discontinuity or "gap" in a government, organization, or social order. Archetypally, it was the period of time between the reign of one monarch and the next (coming from Latin '' ...
St Edward's Crown was saved from the melting pot and that its gold was used to make a new crown at the Restoration.Barclay, pp. 149–170. His theory became accepted wisdom, and many books, including official guidebooks for the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London, repeated his claim as fact. In 2008, new research found that a
coronation crown A coronation crown is a crown (headgear), crown used by a monarch when being coronation, crowned. In some monarchies, monarchs have or had a number of crowns for different occasions, such as a coronation crown for the moment of coronation and a ' ...
and
sceptre A sceptre is a staff or wand held in the hand by a ruling monarch A monarch is a head of stateWebster's II New College DictionarMonarch Houghton Mifflin. Boston. 2001. p. 707. Life tenure, for life or until abdication, and therefore the hea ...
were made in 1660 in anticipation of an early coronation, which had to be delayed several times. His other regalia were commissioned in 1661 after Parliament increased the budget as a token of their appreciation for the king. The crown at Cromwell's lying in state was probably made of gilded base metal such as tin or copper, as was usual in 17th-century England; for example, a crown displayed at the funeral of
James VI and I James VI and I (James Charles Stuart; 19 June 1566 – 27 March 1625) was King of Scotland as James VI from 24 July 1567 and King of England and King of Ireland, Ireland as James I from the Union of the Crowns, union of the Scottish and Eng ...
had cost only £5 and was decorated with fake jewels. In 1671,
Thomas Blood Colonel Thomas Blood (1618 – 24 August 1680) was an Anglo-Irish officer (armed forces), officer and self-styled colonel best known for his attempt to steal the Crown Jewels of England from the Tower of London in 1671. Described in an A ...
briefly stole the crown from the
Tower of London The Tower of London, officially His Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London. It lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, which is separa ...
, flattening it with a mallet in an attempt to conceal it. A new
monde A ''monde'', meaning 'world' in French language, French, is an wikt:orb#English, orb located near the top of a crown (headgear), crown. It represents, as the name suggests, the world that the monarch rules. It is the point at which a crown's h ...
was created for the coronation of James II, and for William III the base was changed from a circle to an oval. After the coronation of William III in 1689, monarchs chose to be crowned with a lighter, bespoke
coronation crown A coronation crown is a crown (headgear), crown used by a monarch when being coronation, crowned. In some monarchies, monarchs have or had a number of crowns for different occasions, such as a coronation crown for the moment of coronation and a ' ...
(e.g., the Coronation Crown of George IV) or their state crown, while St Edward's Crown usually rested on the high altar.


20th to 21st century

Edward VII intended to revive the tradition of being crowned with St Edward's Crown in 1902, but on coronation day he was still recovering from an operation for
appendicitis Appendicitis is inflammation of the Appendix (anatomy), appendix. Symptoms commonly include right lower abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and anorexia (symptom), decreased appetite. However, approximately 40% of people do not have these typical ...
, and instead he wore the lighter
Imperial State Crown The Imperial State Crown is one of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom and symbolises the sovereignty of the monarch. It has existed in various forms since the 15th century. The current version was made in 1937 and is worn by the monarc ...
.Rose, p. 35. Jewels were hired for use in the crown and removed after the coronation until 1911, when it was permanently set with 444 precious and semi-precious stones. Imitation pearls on the arches and base were replaced with gold beads which at the time were platinum-plated.Rose, p. 29. Its band was also made smaller to fit
George V George V (George Frederick Ernest Albert; 3 June 1865 – 20 January 1936) was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India, from 6 May 1910 until his death in 1936. Born during the reign of his grandmother Q ...
, the first monarch to be crowned with St Edward's Crown in over 200 years, reducing the crown's overall weight from to . It was used to crown his successor
George VI George VI (Albert Frederick Arthur George; 14 December 1895 – 6 February 1952) was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth The Commonwealth of Nations, simply referred to as the Commonwealth, is a poli ...
in 1937, and Queen
Elizabeth II Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; 21 April 1926 – 8 September 2022) was Queen of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms from 6 February 1952 until Death and state funeral of Elizabeth II, her death in 2022. She was queen ...
in 1953, who adopted a stylised image of the crown for use on coats of arms, badges, logos and various other insignia in the
Commonwealth realm A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state in the Commonwealth of Nations whose monarch and head of state is shared among the other realms. Each realm functions as an independent state, equal with the other realms and nations of the Commonwealt ...
s to symbolise her royal authority. In these contexts, it replaced the
Tudor Crown The Tudor Crown, also known as Henry VIII's Crown, was the imperial and state crown of English monarchs from around the time of Henry VIII Henry VIII (28 June 149128 January 1547) was King of England from 22 April 1509 until his death ...
, which had been instated by Edward VII in 1901. Use of the crown's image in this way is by permission of the monarch. On 4 June 2013, St Edward's Crown was displayed on the high altar in
Westminster Abbey Westminster Abbey, formally titled the Collegiate Church of Saint Peter at Westminster, is an historic, mainly Gothic architecture, Gothic Church (building), church in the City of Westminster, London, England, just to the west of the Palace of ...
at a service marking the 60th anniversary of Elizabeth II's coronation, the first time it had left the Jewel House at the Tower of London since 1953. In December 2022 the crown was removed from the Tower of London to be resized ahead of the Coronation of Charles III and Camilla on 6 May 2023.


See also

*
Coronation crown A coronation crown is a crown (headgear), crown used by a monarch when being coronation, crowned. In some monarchies, monarchs have or had a number of crowns for different occasions, such as a coronation crown for the moment of coronation and a ' ...
*
Canadian royal symbols Canadian royal symbols are the visual and auditory identifiers of the Canadian monarchy, including the viceroy A viceroy () is an official who reigns over a polity in the name of and as the representative of the monarch of the territory. T ...


References


Bibliography

* * * * * * * * * * * *


External links

*
The Crown Jewels
at the royal family website {{Canadian royal symbols Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom Individual crowns Crowns in heraldry National symbols of the United Kingdom National symbols of Canada 1661 works Edward the Confessor Charles II of England