As we learned in my book, Bertie: The Best Stuttering King, Word War II wrought an incredible amount of destruction on England during prolonged bombing campaigns called “The Blitz.”  The Germans bombed London nightly for hours and months on end, destroying large swatches of London and the countryside, plus manufacturing plants, rail lines, and ports.

Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret were sent to Windsor Castle for safety while their parents stayed at Buckingham Palace monitoring the war.

Windsor Castle

But what could King George VI (Bertie) do to protect England’s priceless artifacts, including the crown jewels?

Well, what anyone would do: they buried them!  That’s right – the king ordered his staff to BURY the crown jewels!

A hole was dug below an exit stairwell at Windsor castle and two steel chambers were built to store national treasures.  The crown jewels were then stuffed in a BISCUIT TIN and buried underground!  All this information came to light recently with the unearthing of old records.

What is even more surprising is that Queen Elizabeth II was not even aware of this information until the records were uncovered!

The Crown Jewels

The crown, front and back

The British monarch’s crown is truly stunning!  It contains:

  • The Black Prince’s Ruby (the huge ruby in the front of the crown)
  • The Cullinan II Diamond (below the Black Prince’s Ruby at the front of the crown)
  • 4 additional rubies
  • 11 emeralds
  • 17 sapphires (including St. Edward’s Sapphire on top and the Stuart Sapphire on the back)
  • 277 pearls
  • More than 3,000 smaller diamonds

And it weighs over 4 pounds!  


In classic Queen Elizabeth II style, she humorously stated about this “unwieldy” royal head gear:    “You can’t look down to read the speech — you have to take the speech up. Because if you did (look down), your neck would break, or it would fall off.”

Battles, Imposters, and Curses

During the research for this blog, I came across other fascinating tidbits:


  1. An earlier version of the crown – weighing 7 lbs., 6 oz. – was destroyed on Oliver Cromwell’s orders in the mid-17th century.
  2. The current crown was made for Queen Victoria’s coronation in 1838.
  3. It includes 4 pearls that were once earrings worn by Elizabeth I. (Can you spot them in the crown picture below?)
  4. It boasts an enormous red jewel called the Black Prince’s Ruby.

Close-up shot of the Black Prince’s Ruby

King Henry the V

5. It is alleged this ruby was worn by King Henry V in his helmet at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 and supposedly saved his life from a traumatic head injury.
6. This ruby used to display a feather! (If you look closely, it appears that there is a hole drilled down through its center!)
7.  When asked about this feather-and-ruby combo, Queen Elizabeth II quipped: “The idea that (King Henry V’s) plume was put into the stone… on his helmet. Bit rash, but that was the sort of thing they did, I suppose, in those days.”
8.  The red ruby isn’t, in fact, a ruby but a 170-carat red spinel.

9.  The ruby/spinel is referred to as the Great Imposter by some. Legend states that it was stolen from the body of the Sultan of Grenada in 1371 by (Don) Pedro the Cruel.  Don Pedro was once offered shelter by the Black Prince (Edward of Woodstock) and, in return, Don Pedro bestowed many treasures upon the Prince – including this stunning jewel.

The Black Prince, Edward of Woodstock

(Don) Pedro the Cruel

10.  King Richard III (aka Richard the Lionheart) didn’t fare as well wearing this ruby at the Battle of Bosworth (he was killed by severe blows to the head).  He was the last British monarch to be killed in battle.

King Richard the III

The Battle of Bosworth

11. The ruby was supposedly part of King Henry VIII’s treasure trove.
12.  It is alleged that the ruby is cursed for those who possess it.  (I think we can debunk that notion.  Fate comes to people in different ways – some monarchs are lucky or smart; others are not).
13.  The crown boasts St. Edward’s Sapphire at the top of the crown (which it is believed was originally in Edward the Confessor’s ring).
14.  The crown also showcases the mammoth Stuart Sapphire on the back side.
15.  The crown contains the fourth largest polished diamond in the world at a whopping 317.4 carats! Originally, it was a huge diamond called the Cullinan Diamond, discovered in Africa in 1905, and weighed 3,601 carats. The huge diamond was cut into smaller pieces and one of those pieces was placed in this crown.  This amazing “chip” is called the Cullinan II Diamond.  Queen Elizabeth II owns all the other chips from the Cullinan diamond!


16.  The crown was modified for Queen Elizabeth II to make it more feminine in appearance and to lessen the load, so to speak. The arches were shortened and redesigned in a floral pattern.
17.  The crown is so heavy the Queen no longer wears it. Instead, she wears a lighter crown and this Imperial State Crown is put on a chair beside her at the Opening of Parliament annually.

Where is the Crown Now?

The crown is on display for the public in the Tower of London and is highly guarded at all times.  But be forewarned – no photos are allowed.  I learned that the hard way when a guard yelled at me while I was trying to photograph these gorgeous jewels!  Also, you cannot stop and ogle the jewels – you are carried through the display room on a conveyor belt to “keep the line moving!”

When the crown is being worn by the Queen, the Tower of London staff put a notice in the display window which states, quite succinctly, “Crown is in Use.”

Tower of London

I found this history truly fascinating and I hope you feel the same!

I think the Queen summed it up best when she said, “So, there are some disadvantages to crowns, but otherwise they’re quite important things.”


(Sources: The Times of Israel Article-Jan 12, 2018; Town and Country Article, Dec. 19, 2019;