Prince Charles Caused Chaos at Queen Elizabeth's Coronation

A young Prince Charles caused quite a stir at the 1953 coronation of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, after grabbing the Imperial State Crown.

queen elizabeth ii on the balcony of buckingham palace after her coronation ceremony with left to right prince charles, princess anne and the prince philip, duke of edinburgh photo by fox photosgetty images
(Image credit: Fox Photos)

Kids will be kids, heirs to the English throne or no, and often that means gravitating to the most expensive thing in the room, seizing it with their tiny toddler hands, and allowing it to shatter into oblivion about 0.02 seconds later. Which almost happened to Queen Elizabeth's crown on the the day of her coronation on June 2, 1953, courtesy of a then 4-year-old Prince Charles.

Lady Anne Glenconner, an attendant to the Queen for the occasion, reflected on the chaos during an appearance on podcast My Life in Seven Charms with jeweler Annoushka Ducas. Charles "got his paws on" the Imperial State Crown, which happens to feature almost 3,000 diamonds alongside rubies, pearls, sapphires, and emeralds, Lady Glenconner said.

"[The Queen] took it off, put it on a table and Prince Charles made a beeline for it," the former lady-in-waiting to Princess Margaret recalled, as People reports. "And we thought he was going to drop it. We thought, 'Oh my goodness, that would be a bad omen.' But luckily, I think my mother, as a lady-in-waiting, seized it from him and took it away."

2nd june 1953 queen elizabeth ii and the duke of edinburgh wave at the crowds from the balcony at buckingham palace photo by keystonegetty images

(Image credit: Keystone)

Prince Charles had plenty of opportunity to take a shine to the giant crown, as the then-future Queen Elizabeth practiced wearing it before the big day, Lady Glenconner shared. "She used to wear it when she was writing letters," she said. "I think Prince Charles says he remembers going in and seeing her wearing it. And asked her why she’s wearing it. And she said she was practicing." Which is sensible, considering it weighs about 3lbs!

Emily Dixon
Morning Editor

Emily Dixon is a British journalist who’s contributed to CNN, Teen Vogue, Time, Glamour, The Guardian, Wonderland, The Big Roundtable, Bust, and more, on everything from mental health to fashion to political activism to feminist zine collectives. She’s also a committed Beyoncé, Kacey Musgraves, and Tracee Ellis Ross fan, an enthusiastic but terrible ballet dancer, and a proud Geordie lass.