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  • Writer's pictureVictoria Regina

Queen Victoria’s small diamond crown

Throughout her reign Queen Victoria commissioned numerous pieces of iconic royal jewellery. One of the most recognisable I’d certainly her small diamond crown, which she wore frequently during her later years.

Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 2024

After the death of Prince Albert in 1861, Queen Victoria plummeted into a deep state of mourning, which caused her to stop wearing pieces of jewellery that were linked to happy memories. In May 1870, she commissioned R&S Garrard and Co. to create a small diamond crown to be worn on either a veil or her widow cap.

During her early reign, Queen Victoria frequently wore Queen Charlotte’s Nuptial Crown before having to return it to Hannover in 1858. Similar to the original, Victorias new crown consisted of four cross-pattée and four fleur-de-lis, which at rising from a diamond-set band. From them, are four detachable arches joined to a monde and cross.

Queen Victoria wearing the crown without the arches © National Portrait Gallery, London

In total, the crown consists of 1,187 brilliant, rose and mixed-cut diamonds. Many of the diamonds are thought to have been recycled from Queen Victoria’s ornamental fringe (now a much smaller Fringe Brooch), while others are thought to have been a gift from the Sultan of Turkey, Abdul Mejîd, in May 1856, as a thank you for Britains support during the Crimean War.

Queen Victoria wore the crown for the first time to the State Opening of Parliament, on 9th February 1871. In her journal, she wrote that she “wore a dress trimmed with ermine & my new small diamond crown over a veil”.

Measuring just 9cm across and 10cm in height, the crown weighed no more than 140 grams a result, the crown quickly became a favourite of Victoria’s and was often worn to family, official and state events, instead of the much heavier imperial state crown and the King George IV Diadem. The crown also appeared on coins, in official portraits and photographs, making it a symbol of her reign.

The Diamond Crown on Queen Victoria’s coffin at Osborne House, Jared January 1901 ©️ Royal Collection Trust / HM King Charles III

After Victoria's death in 1901, the crown was placed on her coffin while her body lay in state at Osborne House. It then travelled alongside her on her return to London, ready for her funeral. Queen Victoria left her Small Diamond Crown to the Crown “to be worn by future Queens in right of it”,

Like many other items in Victorias collection, the piece was given to the crown to be worn by future Queens and Queen Consorts. First to inherit it was Queen Alexandra, who wore it often, particularly to the State Opening of Parliament. It was then passed onto her daughter-in-law, Queen Mary in 1919, however it’s believed that she never wore it. In 1937, her son, King George IV, had the crown placed in the Tower of London, where it remains today.

Queen Alexandra wearing the crown to the State Opening of Parliament in February 1901

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