British Imperial State Crown: St Edward’s Sapphire, Black Prince’s Ruby, Stuart Sapphire

Imperial State Crown. The British Crown remade in 1838 for the coronation of Queen Victoria (used instead of St Edward’s Crown) and which each Sovereign has since worn when leaving Westminister Abbey after the coronation ceremony and on all later State occasions.

It is part of the Crown Jewels. It consists of a pearl-bordered, gold circlet set with large gemstones within clusters of diamonds, the circlet being heightened by four diamond-encrusted crosses formee alternating with four diamond-encrusted fleurs-de-lis.

Rising from the crosses are four arches set with diamonds and pearls, upon the intersection of which rests a diamond-encrusted Monde upon which rises a diamond-encrusted cross formee set with St Edward’s Sapphire;
from the top of the arches hang two pearls said to be from the so-called ‘Queen Elizabeth’s Ear-rings‘. The front cross formee on the circlet is set with the balas ruby (spinel) known as the Black Prince’s Ruby. In the circlet, below the balas ruby, is the diamond known as The Second Star of Africa’ (Cullinan II). At the rear of the circlet is the Stuart Sapphire. The crown was reset for George VI in 1937.

British Imperial State Crown - St Edward's Sapphire - Black Prince's Ruby - Stuart SapphireSt Edward’s Sapphire is a sapphire that is rose cut and is now set in the diamond-encrusted cross formee surmounting the Monde on the Imperial State Crown of the British Crown Jewels. It is reputed to have been set in a finger ring worn by Edward the Confessor, King of England, 1042-66, when he was buried, and removed in 1269 by the Abbot of Westminster as a holy relic and given by him to the King or to Westminster Abbey. It is the oldest stone in the Crown Jewels.

‘Queen Elizabeth’s Ear-rings’. A legendary pair of ear-rings having each a pendent pear-shaped pearl, alleged to have been found after the death of Queen Victoria among her possessions in a packet labelled ‘Queen Elizabeth’s Ear-rings’. It has been related that Edward VII ordered the pearls to be suspended from the intersection of the arches of the Imperial State Crown in place of two pearls that had been placed there for the coronation of George IV in 1820, themselves in lieu of two poorly-shaped pearls previously on the Crown.

Two pear-shaped pearls are now so suspended on the Crown but it has not been established that they were the pearls from the ear-rings and it has been said that in any event the ear-rings probably belonged, not to Elizabeth I, but to Queen Elizabeth of Bohemia (daughter of James I) whose pearls had been inherited by Queen Victoria.

Black Princes RubyBlack Prince’s Ruby. A large red (spinel (sometimes called a balas ruby) that was once regarded as a ruby. It is now set in the diamond-encrusted cross formee above the Cullinan II diamond (‘The Second Star of Africa) on the front of the British Imperial State Crown. The stone has never been cut, merely polished, and so is of irregular shape, almost 5 cm long. It was once pierced to be worn as a pendant, but the hole is now filled with a small ruby.

The stone was first mentioned as being owned by Abu Said, King of Granada, and seized, upon his being murdered, by Pedro the Cruel, King of Castile, who gave it as a tribute to Edward, the Black Prince, son of Edward III of England, after his aid in the victory at the Battle of Najera in Spain in 1367.
It was brought to England and worn in the coronet of the helmet of Henry V at the Battle of Agincourt (1415) and by Richard III at Bosworth (1485), and was later added to the British Crown Jewels by Henry VIII. It was sold during the Commonwealth for a trifling sum, but after the Restoration was returned to the Crown.
It was set in the crown worn by Charles II and in that worn by Mary II, and then restored to the crown of Charles II by George II. It was later transferred to the present Imperial State Crown.

stuart sapphireStuart Sapphire. A fine sapphire that is now set in the British Imperial State Crown. It measures 3.8 by 2.5 cm, and weighs 104 carats. Its early history is obscure, but it has been said that it was perhaps worn in the mitre of George Neville, Archbishop of York, and later confiscated by Edward IV and set in his State Crown. It was sold during the Commonwealth and later set in the State Crown of Charles II.

It was taken by James II when he fled to France in 1688 and bequeathed to his son, Prince James Francis Edward, the ‘Old Pretender’, and from him it descended to the Prince’s younger son, Henry Benedict, Cardinal of York, last of the Stuarts. The Cardinal wore it in his mitre and sold it shortly before his death in 1807 to a Venetian merchant, Arenberg, who resold it to an Italian who bought it for George, Prince of Wales, later George IV. He gave it to Princess Charlotte, upon whose death it was returned to George IV as a Crown Jewel.

At the coronation of Queen Victoria it was set in the new Imperial State Crown below the Black Prince’s Ruby, where it was displaced c. 1908 for the coronation of George V (1910) by the Second Star of Africa and moved to its present position at the centre of the back.