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In preparation for King Charles III’s coronation on May 6, Queen Mary’s crown has been removed from public display at the Tower of London so it can undergo a few alterations that reflect Queen Consort Camilla’s “individual style.”
Traditionally, the British Queen Consort would commission a new headpiece for the grand event, but “in the interests of sustainability and efficiency,” Camilla decided to repurpose the crown originally designed in 1911 for Mary of Teck, the wife of King George V.
The newest incarnation of Queen Mary’s Crown will see the addition of three famous diamonds — the Cullinan III (pear-shaped, 94.4 carats), Cullinan IV (cushion-shaped, 63.6 carats) and Cullinan V (heart-shaped, 18.8 carats). Each of these diamonds were cut from the magnificent 3,106-carat Cullinan Diamond, the largest diamond ever found.
Discovered in South Africa in 1905, the enormous rough diamond was transformed by Joseph Asscher of the Amsterdam-based Asscher Company into nine major diamonds, each of which was given the name Cullinan and a Roman numeral.
In this photograph, the top row shows the Cullinans II, I and III. On the bottom row are the Cullinans VI, VIII, IV, V, VII and IX.
Camilla chose to add the three historic Cullinan diamonds to honor the late Queen Elizabeth II, as they were part of her personal jewelry collection. Elizabeth wore the Cullinan III and IV as a brooch and playfully called them “Granny’s Chips” because she inherited them from her grandmother, Queen Mary. According to naturaldiamonds.com, the current value of Granny’s Chips is more than £50 million ($59 million).
The Queen Consort’s jewelers are also making physical modifications to the crown. Four of the crown’s eight detachable half-arches will be removed to create “a different impression to when the Crown was worn by Queen Mary at the 1911 coronation,” Buckingham Palace noted.
Queen Mary reportedly purchased the Art Deco crown from royal jewelers Garrard & Co. with her own money, hoping that it would someday become an heirloom worn by future queens consort. The crown weighs 1.3 pounds and is set with 2,200 rose-cut and brilliant-cut diamonds.
Buckingham Palace reported that this will be the first time since the 18th century that a Queen Consort will be utilizing an existing crown. The last time it happened was in 1727, when Queen Caroline, consort of George II, wore Mary of Modena’s crown.
Credits: Queen Mary’s Crown photo by Cyril Davenport (1848 – 1941), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. Queen Camilla photo by Carfax2, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Cullinan diamonds photo by Plate X, The Cullinan (1908)., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. Queen Mary and King George V at her coronation in 1911, photo by W. & D. Downey, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.