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Assorted regalia from the Crown Jewels

The Crown Jewels are the most complete collection of royal regalia in the world

Sir Robert Viner, 1st Baronet (1631-88)

St Edward's Crown 1661, with later alterations and additions

RCIN 31700

Jewel House, Jewel House

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Until the early twentieth century the stones adorning the crown were hired for the occasion of the coronation and then returned.  At the Restoration the cost of buying gems had been prohibitive, and so it was agreed that Robert Viner would temporarily supply the magnificent jewels for the occasion and then retrieve them.  Their hire cost nevertheless came to a colossal £500. 

It was only in 1911, for the coronation of King George V, that St Edward's Crown was permanently set with its semi-precious stones.  At the same time it was made lighter.  Since the reign of Queen Anne, the crown had not been worn in the coronation procession but carried, due to its considerable weight.  In spite of these adjustments, it still weighs 2.23kg - nearly 5lb.

The medieval crown on which St Edward's Crown is based had always been kept in Westminster Abbey after the coronation service, since its association with Edward the Confessor made it a sacred relic.  This tradition was continued with the new crown of 1661, so a second, 'state' crown was prepared for use on other occasions.  Because the state crown is used so regularly, it has needed periodic replacement, while Charles II’s original coronation crown has survived.