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What happened to the first St. Edward’s Crown?

On 6 May at Westminster Abbey, King Charles III will be crowned with St. Edward’s Crown at the moment of coronation. The design dates back to the eleventh century, but the crown itself that will be used is much younger. 

The original St. Edward’s Crown reportedly dates back to Edward the Confessor’s reign but can first be found in sources in the thirteenth century. He reigned from 1042 to 1066 and was the last Anglo-Saxon King of England. He was canonised in the twelfth century by Pope Alexander III; his title of “Confessor” signifies that he was not martyred. 

The original crown was used at the moment of coronation for all English monarchs, starting with Edward I in 1274 and used until Charles I’s coronation in early 1626. 

In 1649 in the wake of the English Civil War and Charles’s execution, Oliver Cromwell’s government dismantled, melted down, and sold the English crown jewels. St. Edward’s Crown specifically had the jewels removed and the gold frame was melted down. 

When the Monarch was restored in 1660 and Charles II was offered the throne, a new set of Crown Jewels was required, including St. Edward’s Crown. 

Royal Goldsmith Robert Vyner created the new 2.23kg crown. It is based on the original design, with some modifications- namely that the four arches were created in a Baroque design. It was made with 22-carat gold and features over 440 precious and semi-precious stones including 345 aquamarines, 12 rubies, and 6 sapphires. 

Charles used it at his 1661 coronation. It was also used for his younger brother and successor, James II, in 1685. 

It was not used again at a coronation until George V decided to revive the tradition in 1911 for his coronation. In the intervening years, kings had individual crowns made for their coronations.

As well as George V, it was used by George VI in 1937 and Elizabeth II in 1953. Charles III will continue this tradition in May. 

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