Since it was used in the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, the St Edward’s Crown has sat, for 70 years, in a vault in the Tower of London. That is, until last month when it was moved to an undisclosed location for ‘modifications,’ according to a statement by Buckingham Palace.
Two crowns are used in the coronation ceremony which, for the coronation of King Charles III, will occur on 6 May at Westminster Abbey exactly seventy years after his mother’s. The St Edward’s Crown is placed on the head of the monarch at the moment of coronation – only for a few minutes – before it is replaced with the Imperial Crown.
The St Edward’s Crown was made for Charles II in 1661 as a replacement for the medieval crown which had been melted down in 1649. The original was thought to date back to the eleventh-century royal saint, Edward the Confessor, who was the last Anglo-Saxon king of England.
In 1661, the crown was commissioned from the Royal Goldsmith, Robert Vyner. Although it is not an exact replica of the medieval design, it follows the original in having four crosses-pattée and four fleurs-de-lis, and two arches. It is made up of a solid gold frame set with rubies, amethysts, sapphires, garnet, topazes and tourmalines. The crown has a velvet cap with an ermine band.