St Edward’s crown leaves the Tower of London to be fitted to the head of King Charles III

St Edward’s crown leaves the Tower of London to be fitted to the head of King Charles III

The crown of Saint Edward is certainly the most anticipated jewel by visitors to the Tower of London. The crown is used only once during a monarch’s reign, at his coronation. The crown of Saint Edward left its place of exhibition this Saturday to begin preparations for the coronation of King Charles III, which will take place on May 6, 2023.

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St Edward’s Crown is being adjusted for May 6, 2023

On May 6, King Charles III will wear the crown of Saint Edward for the first and only time. This masterpiece of jewelry, with a mass of gold exceeding 2 kilos, is worn only once during a reign, and this since Charles II. The crown is on public display at the Tower of London alongside globes, scepters and swords representing royal power.

The Crown Jewels on display at the Tower of London. St Edward’s Crown in the foreground and the Imperial State Crown in the background, separated by the cruciger orb (Photo: Nils Jorgensen/Shutterstock/ISOPIX)

Buckingham Palace announced on Saturday December 3 that the crown of Saint Edward left the Tower of London “to allow the start of the alteration work before the crowning”. The crown, already lightened over time, needs to be adapted to the head of King Charles III. Although it is a replica, the crown remains one of the most valuable and symbolic jewels of the United Kingdom.

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St Edward’s Crown has been used for all coronations since 1661

At the coronation ceremony, King Charles III will gird the Crown of St Edward and will also wear the Imperial State Crown. During Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953, the Queen wore St Edward’s crown for only a few minutes. She wears the Imperial State Crown for the rest of the ceremony. The Imperial State Crown was created in 1937 for the coronation of George VI and it is also worn annually at the opening ceremony of the Parliamentary year by the Sovereign.

One of the few images of Queen Elizabeth II briefly wearing the heavy crown of St Edward during her coronation in 1953 at Westminster Abbey (Photo: PA/ISOPIX)

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The Crown of Saint Edward is the symbolic successor to the crown designed for Edward the Confessor, the last Anglo-Saxon king of the Wessex dynasty. He would have worn it on Christmas Day 1065, then it would have been worn for the coronation of William the Conqueror, the first Norman English king, on December 25, 1066 at Westminster Abbey. It was then used during the coronation ceremonies of all the kings of England until Henry III in 1216.

Historians do not agree on the history of the crown during the following centuries. Was it carefully guarded or lost? Anyway, like the rest of the Crown Jewels, it is known to have been destroyed by Oliver Cromwell and then remade during the Restoration of the Monarchy to be used for the coronation of Charles II in 1661. It will then be used again during the coronations of the following sovereigns.

The crown was commissioned from the royal goldsmith, Robert Vyner, in 1661 by Charles II. Although it is not an exact replica of the medieval crown, it follows the description made of the original crown. It includes four patted crosses, four fleur-de-lys and two arches. It is composed of a solid gold frame set with rubies, amethysts, sapphires, garnets, topazes and tourmalines. The crown has a velvet cap with an ermine band.

The coronation ceremony consists in sanctifying the new sovereign, by making him take an oath. He will then be anointed and crowned. The Sovereign is seated in front of King Edward’s Chair during the ceremony at Westminster Abbey. Being anointed means that the ruler has received his authority from God. By becoming a servant of God, the British sovereign sees himself receiving a mission which he cannot fail.

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Nicholas Fontaine

Chief Editor

Nicolas Fontaine has been a freelance web editor since 2014. After having been a copywriter and author for numerous Belgian and French brands and media, he specialized in royalty news. Nicolas is now editor-in-chief of Histoires royales. [email protected]

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