I’m a hoarder. Tonight, turning out a cupboard in preparation for a little home decorating behind it, I found all sorts of wonderful things. An old Sunday supplement from the seventies with an interesting piece about Beautiful Things caught my eye. Since paper carries so much weight, I flipped it onto the throw away pile, and then couldn’t resist peeking at a paragraph or two about the crown jewels.
The Imperial State Crown of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, begins the piece, “combines history, beauty, rarity and value in a way which is unique.” At the front of the crown there’s the ruby King Pedro the Cruel gave to the Black Prince in 1367, worn by Henry V at Agincourt and found decorating the helmet of Richard III when he was killed at Bosworth. It’s actually a ballas spinel that was sold for £4 when the Crown Jewels were broken up, and then returned to Charles II when the monarchy was restored.
Below that is the Cullinan diamond whose total weight was 3,106 carats. The cushion-cut diamond on the crown weighs 317 carats, and the larger portion (530 carats) adorns the Sovereign’s Sceptre. The arches of the crown resemble oak leaves with acorns of pearls and rose diamonds. The four suspended pearls are said to have belonged to Elizabeth I but some say the belonged to Elizabeth of Bohemia, the winter Queen. She was Charles II’s aunt.
The cross pattee holds a sapphire said to have come from Edward The Confessor’s hand when his tomb was opened in the 12th century. At the back of the crown you’ll find the Stuart sapphire, recorded as belonging to Alexander II of Scotland in 1214. It was taken to France in 1688 by James II, the last of the Stuart kings, and acquired by George IV from Cardinal York in 1807. The sapphire is partly pierced, and used to sit at the front of the crown until 1911 when the Cullinan diamond was given pride of place.
There’s lots on the Crown Jewels on the Internet: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TSyLLWZ5jp8 But why not listen to the Queen tell you about them? And I’ll add another of my wildlife pictures.