While Queen Elizabeth was dressed in her finest ornate robes to officially open Parliament on Monday, there was one traditional element of her outfit missing: the 3-lb. Imperial State Crown.
The historic crown, which symbolizes the sovereignty of the monarch and is only seen at coronations and state openings of Parliament, was instead replaced by the much lighter George IV State Diadem.
However, the Imperial State Crown was still present. The weighty crown was placed on a red velvet cushion to the right of the Queen’s throne. Set with 2,868 diamonds, including the 317-carat (no, that’s not a typo) Cullinan II diamond, it includes 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds and 269 pearls and has been worn for almost every opening of Parliament since the Queen, 93, began her reign.
There have only been two previous times it was not worn by Queen Elizabeth for this occasion: in 1974, when there were two general elections, and in 2017, when the Queen unusually wore day dress following a snap election. The George IV State Diadem was also her choice of crown for the State Opening of Parliament back in 1952, the year before she was crowned.
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The reason for the swap may have been simply due to the enormous weight of the crown. Made for the coronation of King George VI in 1937, the Queen joked in the BBC documentary The Coronation last year that it can be cumbersome to wear. “You can’t look down to read the speech,” she explained. “Because if you did, your neck would break — it would fall off.”
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Accompanied to the House of Commons by her oldest son and heir, Prince Charles in full regimental dress and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, who wore her go-to Greville tiara for the occasion, the monarch read out the annual “Queen’s Speech,” which sets out the government’s political agenda. Known for its pomp and ceremony, this year’s Parliament opening marks the 65th time the Queen has attended.
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