What are the Crown Jewels?
The Crown Jewels are jewels and regalia (emblems/symbols of royalty, e.g. the crown) which are passed on to each reigning King or Queen. They include crowns, sceptres, swords, jewellery and more.
The Crown Jewels are culturally very significant in British history and they are often seen as the strongest symbols of the British Monarchy.
The Crown Jewels are housed in the Tower of London and are kept safe by special armed guards called Beefeaters. You can actually go and see the Crown Jewels if you visit the Tower of London – this is something I would definitely recommend. You won’t believe how old and beautiful some of the artefacts are and you will discover their fascinating history!
When does the Queen use the Crown Jewels?
Different items of the Crown Jewels are used on different occasions. For example, St Edward’s Crown and The Coronation Spoon are only used at Coronation ceremonies and the Imperial State Crown is worn by the Queen at every State Opening of Parliament.
History of the Crown Jewels
It is thought that Crown Jewels have been used for centuries, even as early as 200 BC! King Edward, who reigned from 1042 to 1066, put his Royal ornaments in Westminster Abbey for safe-keeping. Since then, the Crown Jewels as a collection have been kept safe, originally in Westminster Abbey and more recently in the Tower of London.
England’s monarchy was abolished for a few years when they were defeated by Parliament at the end of the Civil War in 1649. The parliamentarians were in a lot of financial debt at the end of the war so they seized the Crown Jewels, melted most of them down and sold them.
In 1661, Charles II was crowned as King of England and Scotland and new regalia were made based on descriptions of the destroyed items, including a new crown for the coronation of Charles II which has been used for every coronation since then (the last being the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953)!
The story of Colonel BloodColonel Thomas Blood joined the parliamentarians during the Civil War and when they defeated the monarchy, he was given a large estate. However, when Charles II returned to the throne, Blood’s estate was taken away and he was left with no money.
Following this, Colonel Blood decided to try to steal the Crown Jewels in 1671. He visited the Tower dressed as a priest a few times before the robbery and developed a friendship with the Keeper of the Jewels, Talbot Edwards. One night, Blood went to the Tower with some friends and persuaded Edwards to show his friends the Crown Jewels. Edwards was beaten up and Blood and his friends took the Crown Jewels. They nearly succeeded but Edwards’ son returned home and sounded the alarm. Blood and his friends were caught and arrested.
Blood should have been executed but he confessed and apologised to King Charles II who pardoned him and even gave him his estate back!
Would you like to improve your English and learn more about British Culture? Join an English language course at Bloomsbury International where you will find a good combination of both! You can also visit the Tower of London and many other famous London landmarks by joining our social programme every week.
Quiz – Kings and Queens of England
1. Which king is famous for having six wives?
2. Which king gave us the Union Jack?
3. Which King was only 9 years old when he became king?
4. In 1483, which king reigned for only 2 months?
5. Which queen is known as Bloody Mary?
6. Which king is known as the Lionheart?
Last week’s answers
There, Their or They’re
1. “Why can’t you see it? It’s right over there!”
2. “I’ve met them before but I can’t remember their names.”
3. “There are a few ingredients missing from this recipe.”
4. “Where are they? I can’t believe they’re late again!”
5. “They’ve forgotten their swimming costumes.”
6. “I like going to Greece but I wouldn’t want to live there.”
7. “They’re eating dinner now so they said they’ll meet us later.”
8. “I wish they would look after their dog a bit better.”
9. “Will there be rain tomorrow?”
10. “They said that they’re having a great time studying at Bloomsbury!”