Heavy is the head that wears the crown—literally. For his coronation's crowning moment—a moment he has waited for over 74 years—King Charles will wear the magnificent St. Edward’s Crown, which People reports weighs nearly five pounds. (That may not sound like much weight, until you try to balance it atop your head.) The crown “was created in 1661 from a solid gold frame, set with semi-precious stones from tourmalines, topazes, rubies, sapphires, zircons, and aquamarines,” the outlet reports. “Four crosses and four fleurs-de-lis decorate the gold band.”
St. Edward’s Crown is considered the most sacred in the royal collection and is only used for the moment of the actual crowning, according to Historic Royal Palaces. The moment of his crowning is the only time in the King’s life when he will ever wear this crown publicly.
The crown is so heavy on the head that the King “will have to practice wearing it extensively,” Roberta Fiorito, cohost of Royally Obsessed, a Gallery Media Group podcast, tells Marie Claire.
The King, who was four and a half years old when his mother was crowned in June 1953, has recalled sitting in the bath, the late Queen sitting with him with the crown atop her head, “trying to get used to the weight and the feel of it,” royal expert Victoria Arbiter tells Marie Claire. “She was a young woman of 27 practicing wearing it; the king is 74 years old. It is incredibly heavy, but my God, what a sparkler. It’s incredibly beautiful with the most incredible jewels.”
St. Edward’s Crown is named after St. Edward the Confessor, and versions of it have been used to crown British monarchs since the thirteenth century, Christopher Andersen, author of The King: The Life of Charles III, tells Marie Claire. “The current one was made for the last King Charles—Charles II—in 1661,” he says. “It is solid gold and weighs a neck-straining five pounds.”
“I love the idea that he chose the same crown Queen Elizabeth wore to her Coronation in 1953—it feels like there will be a little piece of her there,” Kinsey Schofield, host of “To Di for Daily” podcast, tells Marie Claire. “It has recently been customized to fit the King perfectly. The Queen, in very rare moments, complained of how heavy it is, so I look forward to seeing when the crown is placed.”
The crown will have been adjusted and caution taken to fit the King’s head specifically and make it “as comfortable as possible,” Arbiter says. “But, at the same time, the King is generally a put up, suck up, get on with it, and don’t complain [type of person]. He will do the job he is expected to do to the best of his ability. That is how he was raised.”
As his mother Queen Elizabeth did at her own Coronation in 1953, the King is expected to change into the Imperial State Crown after being crowned with the St. Edward’s Crown and will be wearing this crown as he processes out of Westminster Abbey. This crown weighs a little over two pounds “but is no less spectacular,” Andersen says. If you follow the royal family at all, you’ve certainly seen this crown before—it is traditionally worn by the monarch at state ceremonies like the State Opening of Parliament; it was also the crown placed atop Queen Elizabeth’s coffin during her state funeral last September (and is the crown pictured here). The Imperial State Crown was given to King Edward VII by the South African Transvaal Colony in 1907 and is adorned with 2,901 precious stones, including the Cullinan II diamond, set in the band and weighing 317.4 carats. Other stones of note include St. Edward’s Sapphire, the Stuart Sapphire, and the Black Prince’s Ruby.
Outside of the Coronation, the crown jewels are kept under lock and key at the Tower of London. According to People, the crowns will be returned to the Tower of London on May 26 and be a part of a new exhibit.
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Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.
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