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The most famous royal diamonds of all

There were several important pieces and jewels on display at King Charles and Queen Camilla’s Coronation on 6 May 2023 at Westminster Abbey. Three stones, in particular, were centre of attention in the Abbey when The Queen wore Queen Mary’s crown. And the gems are amongst the most famous of all royal jewel: the Cullinan Diamonds. 

Buckingham Palace has officially announced that Queen Mary’s crown has been removed from the Tower of London, where it is usually on display, in order to undergo work ahead of the Coronation. One of the main alterations is that the Cullinan III, IV, and V will be placed set in the crown. 

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This is a particularly poignant choice, as the stones belonged to Queen Elizabeth II personally. 

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The Cullinan Diamond was discovered in a mine in Cullinan, South Africa and was over 3,000 carats when found. The colonial government of South Africa purchased the stone and gave it to King Edward VII. He commissioned Asschers, a jewellery firm in the Netherlands, to break up the stone; they cut it into nine substantial diamonds and ninety-six brilliants. 

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Cullinan I and II, the two largest pieces, are permanently set in the Crown Jewels. Cullinan I, at 530 carats, is set in the Sovereign’s Sceptre and Cullinan II, at 317 carats, is set in the Imperial State Crown. 

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Queen Camilla will wear Cullinan III, Cullinan IV, and Cullinan V in her crown. Queen Elizabeth II inherited these diamonds personally from her grandmother. She referred to them as “Granny’s Chips.” Elizabeth wore the Cullinan III (94 carats) and the Cullinan IV (63 carats) set as a brooch. 

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The late Queen also wore the Cullinan V set in a brooch. She wore the almost-19 carat, heart-shaped diamond brooch frequently throughout her reign. 

Including these specific diamonds in Queen Camilla’s crown on 6 May is a poignant way to pay tribute to her late mother-in-law. 

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