The Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom

I recently visited London for the first time and was awed by the Crown Jewels:  the actual crown, scepter and orb used in coronations, the crown the queen wears when opening Parliament, and other crowns.

Click on this link to the royal family’s website to see them.  The largest photo is of the Imperial State Crown, with a large diamond, the Cullinan II, in the lower front. Click on thumbnails (small photos) to enlarge each photo and read the caption, if you like.

Queen Elizabeth II was 25 at her coronation, and in the portrait you can see in the above link, she holds the Sovereign’s Orb and the staff-like  Sovereign’s Sceptre.

The sceptre (scepter in American English) holds the Cullinan I diamond — it’s the large diamond you see in the close-up of the top of the scepter, and there is also a close-up of the diamond alone.  (It comes out so it can be worn as jewelry.) At 530 carats, it is the largest top-quality cut diamond in the world. It’s also called the First Star of Africa.

The Cullinan Diamond was discovered a century ago in a mine in South Africa, and it weighed one and one-third pounds. It has been cut into smaller pieces, the largest being the Cullinan I and the Cullinan II, also called the Second Star of Africa, which you saw in the Imperial State Crown.

You can read more about the Crown Jewels on the royal family’s website, and also how Oliver Cromwell got rid of many early Crown Jewels after he did away with King Charles I.



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