May 22, 2022, 19:44

    State Opening of Parliament: What happens to the Crown Jewels after they’ve been used?

    State Opening of Parliament: What happens to the Crown Jewels after they’ve been used?

    The Crown Jewels are a key part of the State Opening of Parliament, and even though the Queen herself won’t be attending this year, her glittering gems will still be on full display.

    The Crown Jewels are a spectacular collection of royal ceremonial objects that have been kept in the Tower of London for over 600 years.

    Some of the pieces date back to 1661, and have been used in every coronation since. The last crowning of a monarch was the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953, but many of the jewels have still been used since, particularly for important events like the State Opening of Parliament.

    The Queen will not be attending the State Opening this year due to episodic mobility problems, but Prince Charles and Prince William will open Parliament on her behalf and the Imperial State Crown will still be brought to Parliament.

    Here's a look at what happens to the Crown Jewels after they’ve been used.

    How are the Crown Jewels transported?

    The Crown Jewels are transported in a separate car to and from the State Opening of Parliament


    The Imperial State Crown is so important that it is transported to the State Opening of Parliament in its own vehicle.

    The crown rides along with other Crown Jewels, including the Sword of State and the Cap of Maintenance, in a procession ahead of the coach that usually carries the Queen.

    When it gets to Parliament it arrives in the chamber on a velvet pillow carried by the Lord Great Chamberlain.

    While the Crown Jewels are transported to and from Parliament they are protected by armed guards.

    How are the Crown Jewels cleaned?

    The State Imperial Crown and other Crown Jewels are cleaned once a year

    Getty Images)

    You may think that the Crown Jewels would be cleaned after being used at the State Opening, but they are actually cleaned just once a year in January by the official Crown Jeweller.

    When it comes to the Imperial State Crown, only three people are allowed to touch it: the monarch, the Archbishop of Canterbury during the coronation ceremony, and the Crown Jeweller.

    So the only person who cleans the Imperial State Crown, which weighs a hefty 2.3lb, or just over 1kg, is the Crown Jeweller.

    However, Angela Kelly, the Queen's stylist and dressmaker, revealed that the Queen's other jewels, including those used for a State Opening, are sometimes cleaned using an unusual method.

    In her book The Other Side Of The Coin: The Queen, The Dresser And The Wardrobe, she says: "A little gin and water come in handy to give the diamonds extra sparkle — just don't tell the jeweller!"

    How are the Crown Jewels protected?

    The Imperial State Crown is traditionally worn by Queen Elizabeth II at the State Opening of Parliament

    Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

    Following the State Opening of Parliament, the Crown Jewels that are used are returned to the Tower of London under the protection of armed guards.

    It’s here that the jewels will be protected until their next use by a world-class security system.

    The system protecting the jewels includes 100 hidden security cameras, two top guard details, 22 Tower Guards, 38 ex-military Yeomen Warders and bomb-proof glass that encases the artefacts.

    Does the Queen still wear the Crown Jewels?

    The Queen no longer wears the Imperial State Crown, instead she opts for the George IV State Diadem

    AFP via Getty Images)

    The Imperial State Crown is usually worn by the Queen every year at the State Opening of Parliament. It's set with 2,868 diamonds, 11 sapphires, 11 emeralds and 269 pearls.

    However, since 2017 the Queen has opted not to wear the crown, for the simple reason that it is too heavy for a woman in her 90s.

    Speaking about the weight of the Imperial State Crown to the BBC in 2018, the Queen said: "You can't look down to read the speech, you have to take the speech up.

    "Because if you did, your neck would break – it would fall off.

    “So there are some disadvantages to crowns, but otherwise they’re quite important things.”

    Instead, the Queen now usually opts to wear another of the Crown Jewels, the George IV State Diadem, as the Imperial State Crown sits beside her throne.

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