What is the Imperial State Crown?

The Imperial State Crown, a glittering diadem of nearly 3000 gemstones, will be worn by King Charles for his coronation. But who made the Imperial State Crown and why, and what is it worth? Everything you need to know about the King's most famous crown explained

By Joshua Hendren

The Imperial State Crown, perhaps the most famous piece in the Crown Jewels, which contains nearly 3000 gemstones, including its central stone, the Black Prince’s Ruby, will be worn by King Charles III for his coronation and rested upon Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin during her lying in state at Westminster and state funeral last September.

Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin, draped in the Royal Standard and bearing the Imperial State Crown, is transported on a gun carriage from Buckingham Palace to The Palace of Westminster ahead of her Lying-in-State on September 14, 2022 in London, United Kingdom (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

Who made the Imperial State Crown?

Made for the coronation of the Queen’s father, King George VI, in 1937 by Garrard, the Imperial State Crown bears a close resemblance to the Crown of State made for Queen Victoria in 1838 by Rundell, Bridge & Rundell, Crown Jewellers of the time.

Weighing a headache-inducing 2.3lbs (1.06kg), the Imperial State Crown is adorned with a whopping 2,868 diamonds, 273 pearls, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds, and five rubies, many of which have hundreds of years of Royal history. It includes St Edward’s Sapphire, said to be from the ring of King Edward the Confessor dating to 1066, and pearl earrings that dangle at its centre believed to have been worn by Mary, Queen of Scots.

Queen Elizabeth II with the Imperial State Crown in 1978 (Photo by NBCU Photo Bank)

During her 70-year reign, Her Majesty wore the crown annually at the State Opening of Parliament. And, while St Edward’s Crown was chosen for her coronation – another of the Crown Jewels that dates to 1661 – the lighter Imperial State Crown was worn for the formal photographic portraits and Palace balcony appearance.

The Imperial State Crown (Photo by Rob Welham/Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

What is the Imperial State Crown worth?

As it remains the Imperial State Crown has never been appraised, but some experts estimate the value of the crown at a staggering £3 billion to £5 billion. This comes as little surprise given that the crown is made of a solid gold and encrusted with thousands of rare gemstones.

What is the Imperial State Crown made of?

Included among these treasures is the Cullinan II diamond, a 317.4-carat diamond from the original Cullinan diamond, the largest uncut diamond ever discovered, which was originally found in Cullinan, South Africa, in 1905.

Elsewhere, the Black Prince’s Ruby, a 170-carat cabochon spinel satin thought to have been given to Edward the Black Prince, son of King Edward III, is set into the cross, while the Stuart Sapphire, believed to have belonged to King Charles I, brought to the country by his son James II, sits at the back of the crown.

Like this? Here’s all you need to know about the Crown Jewels