When it comes to iconic royal accessories, there are tiaras: jeweled headpieces worn by aristocratic women on formal occasions. Then there are crowns: gilded works of art, wore by queens on their coronation or during the opening of parliament. They feature priceless jewels of almost unfathomable sizes. They’re lined with sumptuous fabrics such as velvets and brocades. And most importantly, they feature symbolic motifs and emblems that nod to each wearer’s national duty.
Many crowns have been donned by queens throughout the centuries—however, very few have been photographed on the heads of their respective monarchs. Some were lost during conflicts before the medium was even invented, others only sit inactive in museums.
But there’s something (quite literally) majestic about seeing them in use. Below, a set of photographs of crowns throughout history, from the early 20th century to modern day.
Imperial State Crown of the United Kingdom
2,901 stones line the Imperial State Crown of the United Kingdom, including 2,868 diamonds, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds and 269 pearls. The signature diamond in the front (known as “Cullinan II”) is linked to an impressive sapphire in the back (the “Stuart Sapphire”) by a sparkling jeweled frieze. But perhaps the pièce de résistance? The octagonal rose-cut sapphire on top, called “St Edward’s Sapphire.”
The crown, designed by Garrard, was first worn by King George VI in 1937 and most recently worn by Queen Elizabeth.
The George IV State Diadem