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British RoyalsQueen Elizabeth II

The Queen’s Reign in Jewels: The George IV Diadem

For the Platinum Jubilee, we are looking at some of The Queen’s most impressive jewels. The Queen has many tiaras in her vaults to choose from. However, some have a longer history than others. The George IV Diadem dates back to 1820 and has been worn on countless historic occasions. 

In 1820, George IV commissioned a diadem for his coronation from Rundell & Bridge for over £8,000 (around £70,000 in today’s money). 

In The Queen’s Jewels, Leslie Field writes that “[t]he completely circular diadem has four crosses pattée set with diamonds, representing St. George… and four diamond bouquets incorporating roses, thistles and shamrocks, the emblems of the United Kingdom”. The band of diamond scrollwork was reset for Queen Alexandra in 1902 and was set in between two rows of pearls. 

A young Queen Victoria also wore this famous diadem at her coronation in 1838, and continued to wear it frequently for many different events. She left it to the Crown upon her death in 1901, and it has remained in the royal collection since. 

Aside from George IV, it has only been worn by Queens and Queens Consort. Queen Adelaide, Queen Alexandra and Queen Mary all wore the diadem for their husbands’ coronations. (There are no photographs of the future-Queen Mother wearing the diadem but she did wear it during her husband’s reign.) They also wore the piece for other events, as well. 

Queen Elizabeth II only wears it for state occasions, wearing it for the procession to and from almost every State Opening of Parliament. She also wore it during the procession to her own 1953 coronation. 

It remains one of the most popular and well-known pieces of royal jewellery as it has been featured in countless portraits, including those used on stamps and currency. The Queen wore the piece for a portrait to mark her Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

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Historian and blogger at AnHistorianAboutTown.com