Queen Elizabeth’s coffin was adorned Thursday with the Imperial State Crown as came his farewell tour dFrom Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall.
The Imperial State Crown, a shining symbol of sovereignty, which was used by the Queen for her coronation in 1953 and on many occasions throughout her reign, but its weight was equivalent to the great responsibility that a reign entails.
In 2016, and for each state opening of parliament thereafter, it was placed a velvet pillow right next to Her Majesty. It had become, at almost three pounds and loaded with 2,901 stones, simply too heavy a load to carry.
“You can’t look down to read the speech, you have to lift the speech, because if you did, your neck would break, it would fall off,” Queen Elizabeth explained in a documentary. “So, there are some downsides to crowns, but otherwise they’re pretty big things.”
And the Imperial State Crown is certainly something quite important. In those almost three thousand stones are included some of the most legendary in historyincluding the Cullinan II diamond, the St. Edward sapphire (said to have started life as the ring of Edward the Confessor), the Stuart sapphire (once in the front of the crown but now moved to the back), and the Ruby of the Black Prince.
that big The red stone in the center of the Imperial State Crown has been there since the time the crown was reimagined for Queen Victoria in 1838. (The crown has gone through several reincarnations since the restoration of the monarchy in 1660.)
It is known as the Black Prince’s Ruby but it is, in fact, a 170 carat red spinel. It is sometimes called the Great Impostor and Peter the Cruel is said to have stolen it in 1371 from the body of the Sultan of Granada. Edward of Woodstock (the Black Prince) offered refuge to Don Pedro; Don Pedro offered the Black Prince untold treasures, including a huge red stone in return.
The “Black Prince’s Ruby” was worn on the battlefields by Henry V at Agincourt (where it could have saved him: when the king was hit on the head, not only he but the stone survived) and Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth. (where he didn’t bring the same kind of luck). There is evidence that it was also part of the treasure of Henry VIII. But most famous is the red stone on the Cullinan II diamond in the Imperial State Crown.
One of the most valuable gems in one of the world’s most prized jewelry collections, the stone has sometimes been thought to bring with it a curse.
The glorious and long reign of Queen Elizabeth forced this myth to be reconsidered. And her presence on her coffin journey is another reminder that while monarchs may change, the Black Prince’s Ruby endures.