92-year-old Queen Elizabeth II has been reunited with the glittering – but little seen – St Edward’s crown that turned her from a princess into a queen 65 years ago.
2nd June 1953, the St Edward’s Crown was placed on the head of 27-year-old Princess Elizabeth, by the Archbishop of Canterbury during her coronation, signalling the moment she became Queen.
But she’s never worn the piece again and has only set eyes on it once, when she saw it behind a glass case during a visit to open the Jewel House at the Tower of London in 1994.
Now, for the first time since her Coronation, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has been reunited with the glittering crown which was originally made for Charles II in 1661 by Crown Jeweller Robert Viner.
The crown was to replace a medieval crown which had been melted down in 1649 and was thought to date back to the 11th century royal saint, Edward the Confessor.
The St Edward’s Crown is composed of a solid gold frame and stands 12 inches tall and weighs nearly 5lbs – is studded with 444 glittering jewels, including rubies, amethysts and sapphires, with a purple velvet cap and ermine band.
After the Archbishop of Canterbury used it at the actual moment of coronation in 1953, Queen Elizabeth II then exchanged the crown for the Imperial State Crown, which is much lighter, before leaving Westminster Abbey.
Named after Edward the Confessor, St Edward’s Crown has been used to crown British monarchs at their coronations since the 13th century. But in 1533 it was also used to crown the controversial second wife of Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn – unprecedented for a queen consort.
The Queen and her crown were reunited as part of a collaboration between the BBC and the Royal Collection Trust charity for a documentary.
The hour-long programme, called The Coronation, will reveal the story behind the Crown Jewels and will be broadcast on BBC One at 8pm on January 14.
For the first time, the Queen will also personally share memories of her coronation ceremony, as well as that of her father King George VI in 1937.