After their sparkling role at the coronation, the gems that dazzled the world have a new home – fit perhaps for a king and queen, but also for an audience hungry for more.
The Crown Jewels are back on display at the Jewel House in the Tower of London, where a four-year restoration is unveiled today.
The multi-million pound high-security refit means that the 20,000 people who visit the Crown Jewels every day will be able to see the Crown Jewels even closer and from every angle.
And while I actually had few complaints about the old display, this new setting is a revelation.
The Crown Jewels, here worn by Charles III at his coronation on May 6, are now on display in the renovated Jewel House in the Tower of London
The multi-million pound refurbishment of the Jewel House will be visited by 20,000 people every day
Queen Mary’s Crown with a replica of the controversial Koh-i-Noor diamond – which is on display in the new exhibit. The Koh-i-noor was removed from Queen Mary’s crown before May 6 and replaced with stones cut from the Cullinan diamond
The Sovereign’s scepter with cross has been used at every coronation since Charles II in 1661. At its head is a stone of the Cullinan diamond
The late Queen Mother’s crown, here with the real Koh-i-Noor instead of a replica, along with other gems
The jewels are more clearly visible and in a much clearer context, while the many audiovisual additions provide a moving experience.
The controversial Koh-i-Noor diamond is there – diplomatically excluded from a partner’s crown for the first time on May 6.
So is the incomparable Cullinan, which, 130 years after its discovery in South Africa, remains the largest diamond ever excavated.
Given to Edward VII in 1907, it took center stage at the coronation in spectacular fashion, with huge pieces of cut diamond visible in the sceptre, the Imperial State Crown and in the reapplied Consort Crown (minus the Koh-i-Noor) worn by Camille.
Overall, the re-fit is a triumph.
For the first time we see the lists of state crowns made for George I, George IV and Queen Victoria.
It is impossible not to be impressed by the sheer size of George IV’s coronet, who, we learn, had the most flamboyant of all coronations in July 1821.
Another first is the inclusion of an exquisite sapphire – rather lonely called The Unnamed Sapphire – in Queen Victoria’s state crown for her coronation.
On the controversies, the exhibition is clear: the Koh-i-Noor was ‘taken’ and then given to Queen Victoria (which is the opinion of the Royal Collection).
And we see exactly how it was presented to the Queen: encased in a beautiful enamel bracelet, which is present in the display.
There is also a replica of the original Mughal cut of the Koh-i-Noor before Prince Albert had it recut to enhance the sparkle and suit western tastes.
Later in the exhibition we see the diamond itself – which has been competed for for centuries – beautifully set in the crown of the Queen Mother.
The Jewel House houses the British Crown Jewels in the Waterloo Block at the Tower of London
King Charles, wearing the Imperial State Crown, and Queen Camilla, wearing Queen Mary’s Crown, pictured in the Throne Room of Buckingham Palace after the coronation
The display includes the sword carried by Lord President of the Council, Penny Mordaunt at the coronation
We see how the original medieval jewels (dating back to King Edgar’s coronation in 973) were destroyed by Oliver Cromwell in 1649.
The coronation spoon, the only surviving item, is on display, as is a Commonwealth coin – made from the molten gold of the ancient items.
Much of the regalia used in the coronation ceremony is also on display, including another star of the coronation: the 5lb Sword of State, famously held by the Leader of the House of Commons and Lord President of the Council, Penny Mordaunt.
This could be one of the most popular items of all.
- The new Jewel House exhibit opens today, Friday, May 26, and is included in the general admission price.
- Josie Goodbody’s novel The Cullinan Diamond Connection: A Jemima Fox Mystery is due out later this year.
The Koh-i-Noor diamond was taken – not given to the royal family
By Ffion Haf
The Koh-i-Noor diamond, originally thought to be a gift to Queen Victoria, was in fact taken away by the British, the new Crown Jewels display suggests.
Backed by Buckingham Palace, the trustees say the public is now demanding “more transparency,” the trustees said The Telegraph.
The exhibit claims that in 1849, British soldiers forced the Maharaja of the Sikh Empire, who was only 10 years old, to surrender the 105-carat stone.
Queen Victoria was presented with the diamond a year later by the British East India Company, and it has remained in the possession of the royal family ever since.
Today, the Koh-i-Noor diamond sits in the Queen Mother’s Crown, where it is on display, in the Tower of London.
The Koh-i-Noor did not appear at the coronation.
Instead, Camilla wore Queen Mary’s crown, with the Cullinan III, IV, and V diamonds (originally part of the largest single diamond in the world).
These had been part of the late Queen Elizabeth’s personal collection.
Visitors to the exhibition will see a short film explaining how the diamond changed hands in India, Iran and Afghanistan before finally being taken by the British.
According to De Telegraaf, the exhibition says: ‘We really wanted to emphasize, be transparent and as open and clear as possible because it is a very complex story.’