The Crown Jewels

The Crown Jewels (20)

One of the main tourist attractions of the Tower of London are the Crown Jewels, on display in the Jewel House. Among the jewels are valuable objects such as sceptres, bracelets, orbs and swords that were used in the different acts in the coronation ceremony. As well as the jewels, you will also have the chance to see some splendid gold and silver dishes. 

The coronation ceremony dates back to the reign of Edward the Confessor, in the 11th century. However, the majority of the objects and gems were made in 1661 for the coronation of Charles II, since the majority of the monarch’s treasures had been destroyed in previous years after the execution of Charles I in the conflictive years of the English Civil War. 

Among the extensive collection there are 10 crowns of incalculable value adorned with thousands of set precious stones. Three of them are of special interest. Firstly, the Crown of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, ornamented with the famous diamond called Koh-i-Noor. The diamond has a weight of 105 carats. Secondly, you will be able to see the Crown of Saint Edward, which is the one used for the coronation ceremony.

But without doubt the special interest is in the Imperial Crown of Great Britain, which was made in 1838 for Queen Victoria. This piece is still worn today by Queen Elizabeth II in official ceremonies, such as the opening of Parliament. Crowned by an ornamented Maltese cross, and decorated by more than 2,000 diamonds and nearly 300 pearls, featuring on the front part two large gems: the Black Prince’s Ruby and the Culinan II diamond.

Also impressive are other objects that feature in the coronations, such as the rings, the sword of state and the orb, a sphere of gold crowned by an amethyst and a cross that represents the power of the British monarch as defender of the faith and leader of the Anglican Church. Perhaps one of the most incredible pieces is the Sceptre of the Cross, modified in 1910 so that the largest cut diamond in the world could be seen, a giant of 530 carats called First Star of Africa.

An anecdote tells of the curious story of Colonel Thomas Blood, who in 1671 tried to steal the crown jewels with some partners in crime. After dealing with the guard, Blood hid the crown under his cape, and his friend Robert Perot put the orb in his shorts. But they were caught and arrested. Due to inconsistencies that no one can explain, Charles II pardoned Blood and even awarded him a pension. But the guards learnt their lessons and increased the security measures.

Do not miss the opportunity to see this magnificent collection with some of the most impressive precious stones in the world, worthy of any Pink panther film, for example.

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