Heavy's the Head That Wears the Crown: Queen Elizabeth Talks Royal Headgear

Bessie Dean
January 13, 2018

In a very rare, personal account for a BBC documentary to be aired on Sunday (local time), Britain's longest-reigning monarch, who was crowned queen in 1953, spoke candidly about her coronation and some of the crown jewels that play a symbolic role in the ceremony.

As she looked at the footage from 65 years ago, the queen shared her insight into what it was like to actually wear the heavy Imperial State Crown with royal family reporter Alastair Bruce.

The Queen has discussed memories of her Coronation in 1953, divulging how heavy and quite impractical the crown is. But once you put it on, it stays. [While] wearing regalia-that was designed for your forebear King Charles II-in 1661, including a crown that is five pounds in weight.:I just want you to imagine laying out five pounds of sugar bags and putting that on your head, but imagine it's a hat that is made to be too big for you. In fact, she can't even look down at her speech if she's wearing the crown to a public speaking engagement.

The Imperial State Crown was made for George VI's Coronation in 1937 and is set with 2,868 diamonds including 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds and hundreds of pearls, including four known as Queen Elizabeth I's earrings. The jewels, including the Black Prince's Ruby from the Imperial State Crown, were taken from London to Berkshire during the war, for fear they would fall into Nazi hands in the event of an invasion.

The Queen responded: "Yes, very unwieldy".

Mr Bruce told the Times newspaper: "What was so lovely was that the Queen had no knowledge of it".

The Queen only learned of the operation - which happened when she was 14 - while filming the documentary.

Queen elizabeth
GETTY Princess Elizabeth was just 27 on her Coronation Day

On the BBC One documentary, the Queen reveals that the crown's height was reduced in height after her father wore it.

She then added, "So, there are some disadvantages to crowns".

She said: "I remember one moment when I was going against the pile of the carpet and I couldn't move at all".

"It's only sprung on leather", the Queen said (via The Telegraph) when explaining why the coach isn't the most practical ride.

This year saw a scaled-back State opening of Parliament Ceremony with the Queen arriving by auto rather than carriage and not wearing the Imperial State Crown or the Robes of State.

The remarkable story was unearthed for the BBC One programme by Oliver Urquhart Irvine, the librarian, and assistant keeper of the Queen's Archives.

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