Imperial State Crown

From Academic Kids

The Imperial State Crown is one of the British Crown Jewels.

Queen Elizabeth II wearing the Imperial State Crown
Queen Elizabeth II wearing the Imperial State Crown

This article is part of the
hats and headgear series:
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Hats; Bonnets; Caps
Hoods; Helmets; Wigs
Masks; Veils; Scarves
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Crowns; Types of crowns
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The Crown is of a design similar to St Edward's Crown: it includes a base of four crosses pattee alternating with four fleurs-de-lis, above which are four half-arches surmounted by a cross. Inside is a velvet cap with an ermine border. The Imperial State Crown includes several precious gems, including: 2,868 diamonds, 273 pearls, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds, and 5 rubies. It includes several famous jewels. The Cross atop the Crown is set with a sapphire taken from the ring of Edward the Confessor. The Black Prince's Ruby is set on the front cross pattee. Furthermore, the famous Cullinan II, or Lesser Star of Africa, is set on the front of the Crown.

It is generally worn at the end of a coronation when the new monarch departs from Westminster Abbey and is not normally the actual crown used at the moment of coronation. However it was actually worn during the ceremony by Queen Victoria and King Edward VII, both of whom complained about the weight of the normally used crown, St Edward's Crown. Victoria was the only monarch to use her Imperial State Crown as her coronation crown.

The Imperial State Crown is worn annually by the Queen at the State Opening of Parliament. Traditionally, the Crown and other jewels leave in their own carriage and arrive at the Palace of Westminster prior to the Queen's departure from Buckingham Palace. They are then transported to the Robing Room, where the Queen dons her robes and wears the Crown.

Missing image
1937 Imperial State Crown of King George VI
It is identical to Queen Victoria's coronation crown, with the same jewels, but lighter in design.

The current Imperial State Crown was manufactured for the coronation of King George VI in 1937. It is an exact replica of the earlier Imperial State Crown manufactured for Queen Victoria, but is of a more lightweight design and less uncomfortable to wear. Because of its weight (910 g), monarchs often choose to wear the Imperial State Crown in their private apartments on and off for a couple of hours on the morning of the State Opening of Parliament so they can get use to the weight and feel comfortable with it on. (One courtier reported on the morning of a State Opening witnessing Queen Elizabeth eating her breakfast and reading newspapers while wearing it.)

The frames of the old Imperial State Crowns of among others Kings George I, George IV and Queen Victoria are kept in the Tower of London. As the most worn royal crown, the Imperial State Crown has constantly been replaced, due to age, weight, the personal taste or the unavoidable damage that comes with use. Due to its constant usage, it is also the crown that requires most outside repairs and recasting.

The Imperial State Crown, except when in use at State Openings, and the other Crown Jewels, may be found on display at Jewel House in the Tower of London.

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