King Charles and Queen Camilla will attend the State Opening of Parliament today (Tuesday, November 7) – the first of the new reign. The King (then Prince of Wales) opened the last session of Parliament on his late mother's behalf in May 2022 with Prince William in their roles as Counsellors of State.
For the occasion, several glittering items from the Crown Jewels will be on display, including the Imperial State Crown which was worn by the King as he departed from Westminster Abbey after his Coronation earlier this year.
The Crown has a fascinating backstory and is always kept in the Jewel House at The Tower of London where it is protected by bomb-proof glass and over 100 hidden security cameras. But going back a few years, there was a time where it had an entirely different home – much to the surprise of Queen Elizabeth II.
The King's Crown Jewels are some of the most famous and priceless artefacts in the country. During World War Two, the jewels found a new home so that they would be better protected to stop them from falling into enemy hands.
Royal expert Alistair Bruce made a startling discovery about what happened to the Crown Jewels during World War Two, and was able to tell the story to the late Queen, who had no idea!
Mr Bruce said he came across an “electric set of letters” that were written by royal librarian Sir Owen Morshead to Queen Mary about his concerns for the precious jewels and how to protect them from falling into enemy hands.
He explained how King George VI then ordered a "deep hole" to be dug in the grounds of Windsor Castle "beneath a sally port, one of the secure entries to the castle, and two chambers constructed with steel doors.”
He continued: “They dug out this fresh, very virgin white chalk and they had to hide it with tarpaulins so when the aircraft flew over at night no clue was given to the German Luftwaffe that anything was going on.”
What makes the story even better is that the most valuable jewels – the Black Prince's Ruby and St Edward's Sapphire – were removed from the Imperial State Crown and kept separately in the biscuit tin "in case of emergency."
Bruce revealed that explaining the incredible story to the Queen was unique. He said: "What was so lovely was that the Queen had no knowledge of it. Telling her seemed strangely odd."
As the late Queen spoke about her coronation that took place on June 2, 1953, she made many candid revelations about the crown, saying: "It weighs a ton".
She went on to describe it as "unwieldy", saying: "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," she laughed. "So there are some disadvantages to crowns, but otherwise they’re quite important things.”
Later in the documentary, Bruce says: “It’s difficult to always remember that diamonds are stones and so they’re very heavy." The Queen agreed: “Yes, fortunately, my father and I have about the same sort of shaped head. But once you put it on it stays. I mean it just remains on.”
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