by Scott Mehl
© Unofficial Royalty 2023
Following the Homage paid to the King, the Queen Consort is also crowned in a similar, yet simpler, ceremony. The Queen Consort is first anointed, using the same Ampulla and Coronation Spoon used for the King. Having taken her place in the throne chair adjacent to that of the King, the Queen Consort’s Ring is placed on the 4th finger of her right hand, and then she is crowned. After the crowning, she is handed the Queen Consort’s Sceptre with Cross (in her right hand), and the Queen Consort’s Ivory Rod with Dove (in her left hand).
Queen Consort’s Ring
Traditionally, the Queen Consort is given a ring during her crowning ceremony. The last Consort’s ring (pictured above on the right) was made in 1831 for the Coronation of King William IV and Queen Adelaide. The ring consists of a large ruby, surrounded by 14 brilliant-cut diamonds, and an additional 14-rubies around the band. This design mirrored the traditional design for a Consort’s ring. Historically, the Sovereign’s and Consort’s rings remained in their personal collection, thus new rings would be made for each Coronation. Following his death in 1837, King William IV left his coronation ring to his widow, Queen Adelaide, who in turn bequeathed both rings to Queen Victoria in 1849. Upon her own death in 1901, Queen Victoria left both rings, as well as her own Coronation Ring, to the Crown. Queen Adelaide’s Ring has been used by every subsequent Queen Consort – Queen Alexandra (1902), Queen Mary (1911), Queen Elizabeth (1937) and Queen Camilla (2023).
Queen Consort’s Crown
From 1685 through 1761, Queen Consorts were crowned with the State Crown of Mary of Modena, which was made for the Coronation of King James II and Mary of Modena. In addition, it was also used by two Queens Regnant – Queen Mary II in 1689, and Queen Anne in 1702. It was last used for the Coronation of King George II and Queen Caroline in 1727. (Queen Charlotte used her own nuptial crown in 1761.) Since then, a new crown has been made for each new Queen Consort – Queen Adelaide in 1831, Queen Alexandra in 1902, Queen Mary in 1911, and Queen Elizabeth in 1937. However, Queen Camilla has chosen to be crowned using Queen Mary’s Crown, with some slight modifications.
The Crowns of Mary of Modena, Queen Adelaide, Queen Alexandra, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth are all displayed with the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London.
The State Crown of Mary of Modena
Mary of Modena was the first Consort crowned following the Restoration, along with her husband, King James II, in 1685. For the occasion, the Court Jewelers made this State Crown, a Coronation Crown (used for Mary’s actual crowning ceremony), and a Diadem which Mary wore in her procession into Westminster Abbey. Mary’s State Crown and Coronation Crown were both used by Queen Mary II (1689) and Queen Anne (1702).
Mary’s State Crown, pictured above, was originally set with diamonds which were rented for the occasion. The band supports four fleurs-de-lis and four crosses pattée atop a smaller band of diamonds. It is set with four half-arches – each adorned with a central row of pearls, blanked on both sides by a row of rose-cut diamonds. Atop the arches is a pavé-set monde and a cross pattée, with pearls on each of the top three points. It is fitted with a purple cap of velvet and ermine band.
Following the coronation, the jewels were replaced with quartzes. They were temporarily replaced again with real diamonds for the later coronations of Queen Mary II (1689), Queen Anne (1702), and Queen Caroline (1727).
Mary’s Coronation Crown (seen in the photo below) is not part of the Crown Jewels, but is owned by the Museum of London.
Embed from Getty Images
Queen Adelaide’s Crown
After King WIlliam IV came to the throne in 1830, it was decided that Mary of Modena’s State Crown was too fragile and theatrical. Thus, a new crown was made for Queen Adelaide. The Queen, who disliked the practice of renting jewels for the various crowns, instead had diamonds from her own collection used to adorn the new crown made for her. The new crown kept with the British tradition of having four half-arches, surmounted by a monde and a cross pattée. It was fitted with a purple cap of velvet and ermine band. Following the coronation, the jewels were removed, and it was never used again. The empty frame is displayed at the Tower of London.
Adelaide’s decision to have a new crown made became a precedent in the British Royal Family. For the next 106 years, a new crown was created for each Queen Consort – Alexandra (1902), Mary (1911) and Elizabeth (1937).
Queen Alexandra’s Crown
With the last Queen Consort crowned 71 years earlier, when King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra came to the throne in 1901, it was decided that a new crown would be created for the crowning of Queen Alexandra. The new crown was more in the style of European royal crowns (perhaps a nod to Alexandra’s Danish background), less upright and with an unprecedented 8 half-arches, which were detachable. But it retained much of the traditional elements – the band supporting four fleurs-de-lis and four crosses pattée, with the arches supporting a jeweled monde and another cross pattée. Queen Alexandra’s Crown was the first to include the Koh-i-Noor Diamond, sent prominently on the front of the crown. The Koh-i-Noor had been presented to Queen Victoria in 1856, and was later used in the Crowns of Queen Mary (1911) and Queen Elizabeth (1937). Today, the diamond is controversial, with several countries laying claim to its ownership. The Crown is fitted with a purple cap of velvet and ermine band.
Queen Mary’s Crown
Queen Mary’s Crown was created for the 1911 Coronation of King George V and Queen Mary. Queen Mary had the crown designed by Garrard & Co., paying for it with her own money, and the hope/intent that it would become the crown used by all future Queen Consorts. Its design varied from the traditional style, with 8 half-arches instead of four (just as Queen Alexandra’s Crown was designed). At 25cm (9.8 inches) tall, and weighing 590g (1.30 lbs), the crown featured about 2,200 diamonds, including the Koh-i-Noor Diamond, the Cullinan III and Cullinan IV. In 1914, the Cullinan jewels – the personal property of Queen Mary – were removed and replaced with glass, and the arches were made detachable, allowing the Crown to be worn as a circlet. Queen Mary wore the circlet often, including for the 1937 Coronation of her son, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. For this occasion, the Cullinan V was added to the crown, set on the back of the band. The Crown is fitted with a purple cap of velvet and ermine band. (Read more about the various Cullinan diamonds HERE.)
In the photo above, the large stone on the front is the Koh-i-Noor, with the Cullinan IV set just below it. The Cullinan III is set at the top of the crown.
Queen Elizabeth’s Crown
Queen Elizabeth’s Crown was created by Garrard & Co. for the 1937 Coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (later The Queen Mother). It was modeled on the Crown of Queen Mary, however it reverted to the more traditional 4 half-arches instead of 8. Like the previous crowns of Queen Alexandra and Queen Mary, the arches are detachable, allowing for the crown to be worn as a circlet. Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother wore the crown in its circlet form at the coronation of her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II, in 1953. The Crown was adorned with about 2,800 diamonds, including the Koh-i-Noor Diamond, and a replica of the Lahore Diamond. The Crown is fitted with a purple cap of velvet and ermine band. Most recently, in 2002, the Crown – in its full form – was placed upon the Queen Mother’s coffin during her lying-in-state and funeral.
Queen Camilla’s Crown
Queen Camilla has chosen to use Queen Mary’s Crown, created for the 1911 Coronation of King George V and Queen Mary. In February 2023, the Crown was removed from the Tower of London, to undergo some minor modifications for the upcoming Coronation. The original eight half-arches have been reduced to four, and the Koh-i-Noor Diamond is not featured.
The crown features several jewels from the personal collection of the late Queen Elizabeth II, which had also been used by Queen Mary. The Cullinan III, Cullinan IV and Cullinan V will be prominently featured on the crown. Originally part of Queen Mary’s private collection, she left them to Queen Elizabeth II upon her death in 1953. They are now in the personal collection of King Charles III.
The Queen Consort’s Sceptre with Cross and Ivory Rod with Dove
During the crowning of the Queen Consort, she is also handed two sceptres – smaller versions of those presented to the Sovereign. Both of these were made for the 1685 Coronation of King James II and Mary of Modena.
The Queen Consort’s Sceptre with Cross – placed in her right hand after she is crowned – is made of gold adorned with table- and rose-cut quartzes. The top features a monde sitting in a base of quartz-set petals representing a fleur-de-lis, and is topped with a jeweled cross.
The Ivory Rod with Dove – placed in the Queen Consort’s left hand after she is crowned – is made of ivory, topped by a gold monde which features the national emblems (rose, thistle, harp and fleur-de-lis) in enamel. Atop the monde is a cross with an enameled dove with its wings folded.
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