King Charles will open Parliament for the first time in his reign and will wear the symbol of royal power, the Imperial State Crown.
This stunning crown is a symbol of the sovereignty of the monarch, and has been used in coronations since the 15th century, though in various forms. The most current version was created in 1937 for the Coronation of King George VI, and was also worn by Queen Elizabeth II. On May 6th 2023, King Charles III wore it to depart Westminster Abbey.
After the Coronation, it is typically worn at State Openings of Parliament, and, when not in use, is on display at the Tower of London.
But the history of this grand heirloom is matched only by the sheer size and spectacle of the jewels that form it. Here is the Imperial State Crown by the numbers:
The Imperial State Crown features 2,868 diamonds mounted in silver.
There are 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds, and 269 pearls set in gold mounts.
The Cullinan II, a cushion-cut diamond with 66 facets sits on the front of the Crown band. It weighs 317.4 carats.
The Black Prince’s Ruby—named after Edward, the Black Prince, heir of Edward III who died before he could reign—sits above the Cullinan II on a cross pattée. It weighs 170 carats and its English possession dates back to 1367.
St Edward’s Sapphire sits at the top-most cross and came from the tomb of Edward the Confessor, who reigned between 1042 and 1066. The sapphire is said to have been part of Edward’s coronation ring and was taken from his tomb in 1163.
The Stuart Sapphire, which dates back to the House of Stuart’s reign in the 1600s, sits at the back of the Crown and weighs 104 carats.
Four pearls hang from the monde, and they are said to have once belonged to Queen Elizabeth I, however the provenance has never been proven.
The Imperial State Crown is 31.5 cm tall and weighs 2.6 pounds.