Imperial & Royal Crown Jewels

Crown jewels and imperial jewels serve as the symbol of royalty for the country to which they belong. They can include crowns, rings, scepters or even swords in some cases. Dozens of countries from all over the world possess imperial or crown jewels, though the best known stem from current and former monarchies of Europe.

  1. The Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom

    • The Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom rank among the most famous and expensive in the world. They have existed for hundreds of years, but Oliver Cromwell destroyed most of them when he came to power in the 17th century. The current Crown Jewels stem from the Restoration of Charles II in 1660, when new jewels were commissioned. They include crowns unique to each ruler and his or her consort, two scepters, two orbs and five swords, as well as several rings, spoons and bracelets. They remain in the Tower of London under strict guard, and are largely used only for coronation ceremonies.

    The French Crown Jewels

    • Like Great Britain, France’s Crown Jewels suffered under the tumult of revolution and upheaval. Thieves stole them in 1792, though Napoleon commissioned a new set of jewels for his coronation in 1804. In 1887, the French Republic ordered the Crown Jewels sold off, but a few pieces have been recovered and currently reside in the Louvre museum. They include Napoleon’s coronation crown, Louis XV’s coronation crown and the Regent, Hortensia and Sancy Diamonds. The Smithsonian Museum in the United States has several other pieces, most notably the Hope Diamond, originally created for Louis XIV.

    The Spanish Crown Jewels

    • The Spanish jewels are comparatively minor in both size and legacy. They consist of a single silver crown, a scepter and a silver crucifix; they were made for Spain’s current King Juan Carlos I and used during his coronation in 1975. Prince Michael of Greece even went so far as to proclaim that Spain “has no Crown Jewels.” The Spanish royal family often keeps the jewels private--unlike Britain and France, which usually have them on public display--leading to a great deal of frustration about their actual components and value.

    The Russian Crown Jewels

    • Russia’s Imperial Jewels date back to Peter the Great, who established a fund to care for the Imperial Jewels in 1719. Subsequent monarchs added to the collection intermittently, but many of the pieces were sold following the 1917 revolution. To date, only a few of them have been recovered. The surviving pieces remain at the Kremlin Armory Museum, on public display since the fall of communism in 1989. They include the Imperial Crown of Russia made for Catherine II, the 88-carat Shah diamond, the Columbian emerald and the Daffodil Bouquet.

    Crown Jewels of Denmark

    • The Danish Crown Jewels benefit from a stable monarchy and a national history comparatively free of violent upheavals . The pieces date back to the 16th century, but since the establishment of the nation’s modern constitution in 1849, they have only been used for funerary occasions. The Crown Regalia includes three crowns, a sword, an orb and a scepter. There are also four sets of more “informal” Crown Jewels worn by Margaret II, the Queen of Denmark. Rosenborg Castle houses all of them, and they are usually on public display.

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