Monday, April 25, 2011

Countdown to the Royal Wedding - The Royal Regalia

Welcome to the Gracie Jewellery countdown to the Royal Wedding- Part 11
4 Days to go

The items that comprise the Crown Regalia are not just decorative objects but the visible proof of royalty; they are symbols of the power and authority handed down from generation to generation. The Crown Regalia belongs to the State and is displayed to the public in the Jewel House of the Tower of London-attracting nearly two million visitors a year.

The King George IV State Diadem
In 1821 King George IV was busy acting as stage manager for his won Coronation and designed a completely new crown for the ceremony. He wanted his crown to have a floral design, but the Privy Council ruled that this would be improper, at the Coronation crown had always had fleur-de-lys motifs, even prior to Edward the Confessor. Instead he used the floral emblems for his diadem and but a last minute change of mind he never wore it. In 1838 the diadem was reset with pearls and diamonds from the royal collection and worn for the first time by Queen Victoria at her Cornonation. For the next thirty years she wore it constantly: at her children's christenings and weddings; at State banquets; even at a dinner at Cambridge University. She is pictured wearing it on the world's first postage stamp issued in 1840.

The completely circular diadem has four crosses pattee set with diamonds, repesenting St. George, the front one with a rare honey-coloured diamond in the centre; and four diamond bouquets incorporating roses, thistles and shamrocks, the emblems of the United Kingdom. The diamond scrollwork band, remounted for Queen Alexandra in 1902, is framed between two rows of pearls-eighty one in the upper row and eighty eight in the lower row.

The Queen inherited the diadem in 1952 on the death of her father. Because the Queen wears the diadem to and from the State Opening of Parliament each year, and is pictured with it on all United Kingdom postage stamps, the diadem is seen by more millions of people than any other item of royal jewellery.

The Imperial State Crown is a copy of the one made for King George IV's Coronation in 1821 and has an open work frame thickly encrusted with diamonds. The frame is gold, the settings of the stones are silver. The circumference is 23¼", the height 12 3/8" and it weighs 2 lbs 13 oz. It is set with 2,873 diamonds, 273 pearls, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds and 5 rubies. The circlet base has alternate emeralds and sapphires surrounded by diamonds. In the centre front is the 317.4 carat Cullinan II, the Second Star of Africa set in the crown by King George V in 1911. Above is a band of 109 pearls invisibly strung as a necklace, and below is another string of 128 pearls. Mounted on the circlet are upright fleurs-de-lys and crosses pattee covered in diamonds with emeralds and rubies set alternately as the centre stones of each motif. Just above the Cullinan II in a jewelled Maltese cross, is a giant irregularly shaped ruby spinel known as the "Black Prince's ruby". The crown's four oak leaf covered arches are set with rose-cut diamonds and oriental pearl acorns. At the apex, below the diamond set globe, hang four large pear shaped pearl drops. Atop all is the diamond cross pattee with the most ancient gem in all the Regalia. This is a square sapphire, ½" across, that was said to have been set in the 1043 Coronation Ring of King Edward the Confessor, the last of the Saxon line. When the Cullinan diamond was set in the crown for the 1911 Coronation for King George V, it replaced a very large oblong partly pierced sapphire, 1 3/4 by 1 1/16 inches and one inch thick, which was then moved to a similar position at the back of the browband.

Queen Victoria wore this crown for her Coronation. At the State banquet that night, Lord Melbourne complained that he had found the Sword of State very heavy to carry, the Queen told him: "So was the Crown. It hurt me a good deal."

When King George V wore the crown for the 1924 State Opening he wrote: My speech was, I think, the longest on record and took 20 minutes to read. The crown gave me an awful headache. I could not have borne it much longer."

Queen Elizabeth on her Coronation Day june 2, 1953. Her Majesty is wearing the purple Cornonation Robe trimmed with ermine, gold Garter Collar and dress of white satin with coloured beaded embroidery of the flower emblems of Great Britain and the Dominions, among them the English Tudor rose, Scottish thistle, Irish shamrock, Welsh leek, Canadian maple leaf, Australian wattle and Indian lotus flower. Photographer Cecil Beaton was waiting to take the official photographs and later wrote in his diary: 'The Queen looked extremely minute under her robes and Crown, her nose and hands chilled and her eyes tired. "Yes", in reply to my question, "the Crown does get rather heavy." She had been wearing it for nearly three hours.'

Next time - The Royal Family Orders

from the book - The Queen's Jewels by Leslie Fielding

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful post that brings back memories. I saw that coronation when I was very young. We didn't have television yet but on the other side of a street was a radioshop who showed the whole cebration and I was there watching all day. It was so beautiful and touching. Thank you for sharing.


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