Crown Jewels Get A New Life For Coronation

by Laraine St Leon

Coronation Crowns before remodelling for the Coronation of King Charles III and Camilla Queen Consort

Heirloom Crown is to be remodelled and used for the Coronation on the 6th of May, the first time the Crown will be worn in public in over 70 years.


In a royal first for the modern age, at the Coronation of King Charles III and Camilla as queen consort on the 6th of May 2023, Camilla will repurpose the art-deco Crown of Queen Mary, the wife of King George V and great-grandmother to King Charles III.


Caroline of Brandenburg-Ansbach, queen consort to King George II in the late 1700s, was the last to reuse a former queen consort's crown for her coronation. The crown used at that time was the Mary of Modena Crown.


Buckingham Palace said, "The choice of Queen Mary's Crown by Her Majesty is the first time in recent history that an existing crown will be used for the coronation of a consort instead of a new commission being made, in the interests of sustainability and efficiency."


Queen Mary's Crown


Commissioned in 1911 and paid for personally by Mary of Teck, wife of King George V. The Queen Mary Crown, as it is known today, is inspired by the early art-deco movement. It was the wish of Queen Mary for the crown to become an heirloom for future queen consorts.


King George V and Queen Mary wearing her crown soon to be remodelled - Jewels of St Leon Jewellery Blog


The crown was set with the 105.6-carat Koh-i-Noor diamond and accompanied by the 94.4-carat Cullinan III and the 63.6-carat Cullinan IV diamonds. Features of the crown include approximately 2,200 rose-cut and brilliant round diamonds and its eight-half arches, which were unusual for the time period. They were later made detachable to resemble Queen Alexandra's 1902 Coronation Crown.


The Cullinan III and IV diamonds would be removed and replaced with crystal replicas, as would the Koh-i-Noor diamond be replaced after her son's coronation as King George VI in 1936 with a diamond simulant in 1937. The Crown of Queen Mary would then become a feature of the Crown Jewels exhibition at the Tower of London following the death of Queen Mary in March 1953.


Queen Mary's Crown with Koh-I-Noor Diamond, as well as the Cullinan III & IV - Jewels of St Leon Jewellery Blog


The Koh-i-Noor Diamond


One of the world's largest cut diamonds, the Koh-i-Noor is 105.6 carats in a brilliant oval shape. It has been at the centre of the queen consorts' crowns since 1902 when it was in the crown of Queen Alexandria, before being transferred to Queen Mary's Crown for her 1911 coronation and finally to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother's Crown for her coronation in 1937.


Before 1852 the diamond was larger (191 carats) with less sparkle; Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria, arranged for it to be recut and polished to bring out the hidden light. To achieve this, they removed 85.4 carats from the original cut to remove blemishes and faults in the diamond. This diamond is known today and has been displayed in the Tower of London since 2002, after the queen's mother died.


The Koh-i-Noor is approximately 3.6cm in length, 3.2cm in width and 1.3cm deep and has sixty-six facets, eight more facets than the usual fifty-eight facets, which brought out more light and dazzle.


There has been some controversy about the stone and its ownership; countries such as India, Pakistan, Iran, and Taliban-controlled Afghanistan have all claimed that they are the rightful owner. The British government maintains that it was purchased legally.


A New Crown.


It has been confirmed by the palace that Queen Mary's Crown will be used for the coronation of the queen consort on the 6th of May, 2023, at Westminster Abbey. They have also announced in a statement that it has been removed from the Tower of London "Some minor changes and additions will be undertaken by the Crown Jeweller, in keeping with the longstanding tradition that the insertion of jewels is unique to the occasion, and reflects the Consort's individual style."


One of the most significant changes to Queen Mary's Crown will be the remodelling to replace the 105.6-carat Koh-i-Noor diamond setting for the coronation; instead, the crown will be set with some of late Queen Elizabeth II's favourite jewels. The palace said, "These changes will in particular pay tribute to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, as the Crown will be reset with the Cullinan III, IV and V diamonds. The diamonds were part of Queen Elizabeth II's personal jewellery collection for many years and were often worn by Her late Majesty as brooches."


The Cullinan III & IV soon to be mounted in Queen Mary's Crown that will be used to crown queen consort May 2023. Jewels of St Leon Jewellery Blog


Other changes believed to be made to the crown will be the removal of half of the half arches to match that will match St. Edward's Crown that the Archbishop of Canterbury will use for the Coronation of King Charles III. This crown has already undergone changes in preparation for the big event.


The Cullinan III, IV and V Diamonds

The nine shapes and cuts of the Cullinan Diamonds - Attributed to Chris73/WikiCommons

Used with permission by Chris73/Wikicommons


The Cullinan's diamonds are a set of nine major diamonds and 96 minor diamonds cut from a single 3,106-carat diamond found in South Africa in 1905 and named after the mine owner Thomas Cullinan. The original diamond took more than eight months to be divided and cut into various shapes and sizes.


The Cullinan III is also known as the lesser star of Africa, which is 94.4 carats and was cut into a pear shape by Joseph Asscher, a world-renowned diamond cutter. The Cullinan III, since then, has made appearances as different jewellery pieces within the royal collection, such as a pendant on the coronation necklace, part of crowns and most recently, part of a brooch worn by Queen Elizabeth II.


The Cullinan IV is a 63.6-carat square-cut diamond, also known as a lesser star of Africa, and cut by Joseph Asscher in 1908. The diamond was set in Queen Mary's Crown and was later removed and replaced with a diamond simulant. The Cullinan IV, part of Queen Elizabeth's private collection, was turned into a brooch and was seen for the first time in 1958. The queen would wear it often over the years up until her passing.


The Cullinan V is a heart-shaped 18.8-carat diamond that became a pave brooch created for Queen Mary in 1911. This brooch, by all accounts, has remained the same since then. Remarkably, this diamond brooch can be dangled from the Cullinan VIII brooch, or the Cullinan VII can be suspended beneath it to create three stunningly beautiful pieces.


Cullinan V Brooch worn by Queen Elizabeth II


The Crowning Ceremony.


First and foremost, what is a coronation? In the UK, it is a Christian ceremony presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury at Westminster Abbey. During the ceremony, King Charles III and Camilla the Queen Consort will promise god and the people to be of service.


During the ceremony where the new monarch is anointed and given a blessing, King Charles III will be crowned and receive the Royal Regalia. After this, the queen consort will also go through a similar process.


This particular ceremony has not been seen in 86 years, not since the 12th of May 1937, the Coronation of King George VI.


Towards the end of the ceremony, Camilla will be crowned queen consort. She will have the remodelled Queen Mary Crown featuring three Cullinan diamonds placed upon her head during this ceremony, the first time since King Charles III's grandmother, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, was crowned.


The Final Word. 


The 6th of May 2023 will be a first in many ways; as this is the first coronation of a king or queen in most people's living memories, it is also the first queen consort to be crowned in 86 years, the first time in over 70 years Queen Mary's Crown will be worn in public and the first queen consort to reuse another queen's crown in nearly three centuries.


We are looking forward to the pomp and ceremony of the upcoming coronation, we will see the finished remodelled version of Queen Mary's Crown, and we will see what jewellery other members of the royal family will be wearing, such as Catherine, the Princess of Wales, Annie Princess Royal and Sophie the Countess of Wessex.

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