DuJour Navigation
The Queen Mother’s Crown, Garrard & Co, 1937

The Queen Mother’s Crown Affair

The Queen Mother’s glittering Garrard & Co crown, created for the coronation of King George VI in 1937, comes out of retirement

In her Platinum Jubilee message this February, Queen Elizabeth II stated that it was her “sincere wish” for Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, to be styled as Queen Consort when the time comes for Charles to take the throne. With Camilla’s title settled, the ever-important sartorial questions are looming.

The five previous Queen Consorts have had their coronation crowns designed especially for them, the last being Queen Elizabeth’s mother. She wore what has come to be known as “The Queen Mother’s Crown” to the coronation of her husband, King George VI, in 1937. Gone are the days of extreme excess for the Windsor family, so Camilla is likely to wear The Queen Mother’s Crown in lieu of a custom crown commission.

The Queen Mother’s Crown was designed in 1937 by Garrard & Co, the official crown jeweler at the time. It was created in platinum and set with 2,800 diamonds, many of which came from Queen Victoria’s Regal Circlet tiara. The four tapering arches were designed to be removable. When in place on the crown, they are surmounted by a pavé-set monde containing a replica of the 22.48-karat Lahore Diamond, presented to Queen Victoria in 1851. The front cross holds one of the most (in)famous diamonds in the world, the Koh-i-Noor (Mountain of Light), set into a removable platinum mount. The 105.6-karat stone is believed to have been mined in India as early as the 12th century. After changing hands several times, often as the spoils of war, the diamond was eventually acquired by Queen Victoria in 1850. She had concerns about wearing the diamond, and wrote to her daughter, “No one feels more strongly than I do about India or how much I opposed our taking those countries and I think no more will be taken, for it is very wrong and no advantage to us….You know also how I dislike wearing the Koh-i-Noor.” Nevertheless, Victoria had the diamond cut to better highlight its brilliance and wore it as a brooch, as seen in her 1856 portrait by Franz Xaver Winterhalter. It was believed to bestow bad luck to any male wearer, so it was passed on to Queen Alexandra, Queen Mary and then finally set into the Queen Mother’s Crown. The Duchess of Cornwall often sports jewels once worn by the Queen Mother, including the Delhi Durbar and Greville tiaras. It would be quite fitting for her to don the legendary crown in the years to come.

The Queen and Princess Elizabeth after the coronation of George VI, 1937

The Queen and Princess Elizabeth after the coronation of George VI, 1937