Saturday, February 3, 2018

Queen Victoria's Small Diamond Crown

Photograph of Queen Victoria, 1882
Photo of Queen Victoria by Bassano, 1882. Public Domain.
Although Britain's Imperial State Crown seems as if it could be a single crown worn by monarchs through the ages, there have actually been a series of State Crowns since the fifteenth century, all symbolizing the king or queen's sovereignty. Since the Restoration in 1660, there have been 10 such crowns, and Queen Victoria (who reigned from 1837-1901) wore two crowns on State occasions--one crown "regular sized," and the other a miniature. 

Victoria's original Imperial State Crown, created in 1838. Public Domain
Queen Victoria wore her "regular-sized" State Crown at the usual occasions which called for it, including when she left her coronation and at the State Opening of Parliament. At the State Opening in 1845, The Duke of Argyll was carrying the crown before the Queen when it fell off its cushion to the ground. She later described it like a "pudding" that had been crushed.

Coronation Portrait by George Hayter, 1843. Public Domain
After the death of her beloved consort Prince Albert in 1861, Queen Victoria went into mourning and withdrew from public appearances. She wore only black and white (aka "widow's weeds) for the rest of her life. In 1870, the government convinced her to make public appearances again, but she refused to wear her Imperial State Crown. It was heavy, of course, but it also didn't fit neatly atop her widow's cap.

To work around those problems, the Crown Jewelers, Garrard & Co., created a new, small crown which met her requirements and would be appropriate for her ceremonial duties. The openwork silver frame was set with 1,187 brilliant-cut and rose-cut diamonds, and the band supports four crosses-pattée and four fleurs-de-lis, with half-arches surmounted by a monde and a further cross-pattée. The diamonds were taken from a necklace belonging to Her Majesty (white, unlike colored gemstones, were considered appropriate for mourning.) 

The crown weighs six ounces, is four inches across and high.
Queen Victoria wearing the Small Diamond Crown, 1887. Public Domain.
Queen Victoria wore it for the first time at the State Opening of Parliament in February, 1871. It became the crown most associated with her by her subjects. It was even placed on her coffin during her funeral.

Because the crown was crafted of her personal diamonds, it was her property, not part of the Crown Jewels. However, she bequeathed it to the Crown in her will, and it passed into the collection of Crown Jewels at her death in 1901. 

Her daughter-in-law, queen consort Alexandra, wore it on occasion, as did the next queen consort, Mary of Teck. However, once Mary became a widow, she ceased wearing it. The next queen consort, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, mother of Queen Elizabeth II, did not wear it, so her husband, King George VI, had it sent to the Jewel House at the Tower of London, where it is currently on display. 


Susanne Dietze began writing love stories in high school, casting her friends in the starring roles. Today, she's the award-winning author of over a dozen historical romances who's seen her work on the ECPA and Publisher's Weekly Bestseller Lists for Inspirational Fiction. Married to a pastor and the mom of two, Susanne lives in California and enjoys fancy-schmancy tea parties, genealogy, the beach, and curling up on the couch with a costume drama and a plate of nachos. Learn more about her and her newest novel, A Mother for His Family, at


  1. Interesting! Thanks for the post!

  2. Very interesting, Susie.As a new follower of the show "Victoria," I'm fascinated by anything related to her.

    1. Hi Marilyn! I'm fascinated by her, too. And I love the show!

      Thanks for coming by to say hi!

  3. Informative and the pictures added a lot. Thank you, Susanne Dietze.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the post and photos, Marilyn! Thank you for coming by.

  4. Thanks, Connie! Have a great weekend!

  5. Love this post, Susie. It's nice to know the story behind the jewelry she wears on the coins I've collected. Thanks for researching it.