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Queen Camilla Is Re-Setting Queen Mary’s Crown With $50 Million Worth of Diamonds for the Coronation

The queen consort is adding some of Queen Elizabeth's favorite stones to a crown that once belonged to King Charles's great-grandmother.

Queen Camilla Is Re-Setting Queen Mary’s Crown With $50 Million Worth of Diamonds for the Coronation UK Press via Getty Images; Royal Collection Trust/His Majesty King Charles III 2023

With King Charles III’s coronation less than two months away, the royal family is officially in full preparation mode for the grand event—and speaking of grand, Buckingham Palace on Tuesday revealed one magnificent piece of royal headwear that will be a part of the ceremony. For the May 6 event, Queen Camilla will be wearing a crown first designed for Queen Mary in 1911, reset with the Cullinan III, IV and V diamonds from Queen Elizabeth II’s personal jewelry collection.

The Palace notes that this will be the first time “in recent history” that the coronation of a consort will use an existing crown rather than commissioning a new one, and that this was a move undertaken by Camilla and Charles “in the interests of sustainability and efficiency,” according to an official announcement. The diamonds that will be added to the crown are both a nod to the late Queen Elizabeth and a reflection of “the consort’s individual style.”

Royal admirers may recognize the Cullinan diamonds—Queen Elizabeth was fond of wearing them as a brooch (shown below), a piece worth $50 million that she nicknamed “Granny’s Chips” and inherited from her grandmother Queen Mary. The Cullinan III, IV and V diamonds were all carved from the original Cullinan, the largest rough diamond ever found, weighing in at 3,106 carats upon its 1907 discovery in a South African mine. The stone was cut into nine large pieces and 96 smaller gems, and set in both King Edward VII’s scepter and the Imperial Crown. The three stones that will be used in Camilla’s coronation crown—the Cullinan III, Cullinan IV and Cullinan V—weigh 94.4 carats, 63.6 carats and 18.8 carats respectively, per the Royal Collection Trust.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 15:  The Cullinan III and IV Broach is displayed at The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace on May 15, 2012 in London, England. Jewellery, made from the largest diamond ever found, will be shown to the public at the 'Diamonds: A Jubilee Celebration' exhibition which is part of the Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace from June 30th - 8th July 2012 and July 31st - October 7, 2012. Celebrating Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee the exhibition will showcase seven of the 9 stones cut from the Cullinan Diamond - the remaining two from part of the Crown Jewels.  (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
The Cullinan III and IV Brooch Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

The Cullinan diamond recently became a point of controversy after Queen Elizabeth’s death, when South African activists demanded that the Cullinan I, a 530-carat diamond also known as the Great Star of Africa, be returned to South Africa to be displayed in a museum in its home country. Over 6,000 people signed a petition in the wake of the monarch’s death, but the royal family did not issue an official response to their request.

Vintage illustration of the King's Royal Scepter, part of the Crown Jewels of England (chromolithograph), 1919. The sceptre features Cullinan I, known as the Great Star of Africa, the largest cut clear diamond in the world. (Photo by GraphicaArtis/Getty Images)
The King’s Royal Scepter, featuring Cullinan I GraphicaArtis/Getty Images

It’s unclear whether the lesser Cullinan diamonds generate the same level of outrage—but if so, the sustainable aspect of Camilla’s coronation crown may not be enough to shield it from controversy.

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