Queen Elizabeth II’s family are known to bring out the jewels for state occasions, weddings and banquets.
The 95-year-old monarch dips into her private collection to help out family members and also has the Crown Jewels, kept securely at the Tower of London.
They are thought to be among the most viewed in the world, drawing millions of tourists from London’s busy streets.
“Over 30 million people have seen them in their present setting at the Tower,” according to the Historic Royal Palaces, a charity that runs several of the royals’ palaces.
“They are possibly the most visited objects in Britain, perhaps the world. But most remarkable of all is that this a unique working collection.
“The Imperial State Crown is usually worn by the monarch for the State Opening of Parliament.
“When the next coronation comes around, key items will be taken to Westminster in readiness for the ceremony.”
The Imperial State Crown
Queen Elizabeth II’s Imperial State Crown is among the jewels kept under lock and key at the Tower of London and visited by tourists.
However, it does get one outing each year when the queen conducts the State Opening of Parliament, an occasion heavily laden with ceremony.
The crown itself gets its own carriage to the House of Lords, where Elizabeth reads the Queen’s Speech, outlining the Government’s legislative program for the year.
The queen rarely speaks publicly about the realities of royal life but did give one typically dry appraisal of the crown to journalist Alastair Bruce.
She told a BBC documentary: “Fortunately, my father and I had about the same sort of shaped head. Once you put it on, it stays. It remains itself.”
“You can’t look down to read the speech,” she continued, “you have to take the speech up. Because if you did, your neck would break—it would fall off.”
Kate Middleton’s Sapphire Engagement Ring
When Prince William asked Kate Middleton to be his future queen he used the same diamond and sapphire engagement ring as his father Prince Charles.
Prince Harry inherited the ring but chose to give it to his brother so that their mother Princess Diana could one day symbolically take her place on the throne, through her jewellery.
Former royal butler Paul Burrell told Amazon Prime documentary The Diana Story: “Harry said to him: ‘Wouldn’t it be fitting if she [Kate] had mummy’s ring?’.”
He added: “Then one day that ring will be sat on the throne of England. Harry gave up his precious treasure.”
The St Edward’s Crown
The queen multiple crowns though one of them, the St Edward’s Crown, she has only worn once at her coronation in 1953.
It is the same crown in which Charles II performed his coronation at the same church, Westminster Abbey, in 1661.
For hundreds of years, the crown did not have permanent jewels, which would instead by rented for each coronation, according to the Royal Collection Trust.
However, the crown was finally permanently set in 1911 and now weighs 2.23kg.
The fact it is so rarely worn has allowed the original St Edward’s Crown to survive, whereas the more frequently worn Imperial State Crown has required replacement, according to the RCT website.
Meghan Markle in Queen Mary’s Bandeau Tiara
The Duchess of Sussex married Prince Harry in a rarely seen tiara she borrowed from Queen Elizabeth II.
Meghan wore the Queen Mary Bandeau Tiara as she officially became a princess at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, on May 19, 2018.
The website of the Royal Collection Trust states: “This diamond and platinum bandeau tiara, lent to the Duchess by Her Majesty The Queen, held the veil in place.”
It adds: “The tiara is formed as a flexible band of eleven sections, pavé set with large and small brilliant diamonds in a geometric design. The centre is set with a detachable brooch of ten brilliant diamonds.”
Queen Mary’s Fringe Tiara
Queen Elizabeth II wore Queen Mary’s Fringe Tiara when she married Prince Philip at Westminster Abbey in November, 1947.
However, it was not a completely seamless affair as the jewellery broke at the last minute and had to be repaired.
The royal family’s website states: “The diamond fringe tiara was lent to The Queen on her wedding day, the frame of the gem broke as the bridge was putting it on and it had to be quickly repaired.”
The tiara was made for Queen Mary in 1919 using a diamond necklace given by Queen Victoria for her 1893 wedding and leant to then Princess Elizabeth, according to the Royal Collection Trust website.
The piece was worn more recently though after Elizabeth leant it to granddaughter Princess Beatrice for her lockdown wedding last summer.
Queen Elizabeth II’s Orb and Sceptre
The Crown Jewels also contain an orb and sceptre used by the incoming monarch during the coronation.
The Historic Royal Palaces website states: “The gold Sovereign’s Orb (1661), containing many original gemstones, symbolises the Christian world with its cross mounted on a globe. It is placed in the monarch’s right hand before being placed on the altar.”
The sceptre contains what HRP describes as “the largest top quality cut white diamond in the world, weighting in at 530.2 carats.”
Kate Middleton’s Cartier Halo Scroll Tiara
The Duchess of Cambridge wore the Cartier Halo Scroll Tiara when she married Prince William at Westminster Abbey, in 2011.
The piece was originally designed by Cartier for King George VI to give to the Queen Mother in 1936 back when he was the Duke of York, before he took the throne.
The Royal Collection Trust describes it as: “A diamond ‘halo’ tiara formed as a band of 16 graduated scrolls, set with 739 brilliants and 149 baton diamonds, each scroll divided by a graduated brilliant and with a large brilliant at the centre.”
Princess Diana’s Spencer Family Tiara
Not all the jewellery in the royal history books belongs to the queen—in fact one of Princess Diana’s most famous pieces was the Spencer Family Tiara.
Prince William and Prince Harry’s mother chose to carry a piece of her own family history on her wedding day in 1981 when she married Prince Charles and became the Princess of Wales.
Prior to that point, she had been Lady Diana Spencer, her blood family being aristocratic in their own right.
The piece was created by Garrard in the 1930s based on gifts the family had been given, including a present from the wedding of Diana’s grandparents, Lady Cynthia Hamilton and the 7th Earl Spencer, Town & Country reported.
Meghan Markle’s Engagement Ring
Prince Harry created Meghan Markle’s engagement ring using diamonds from Princess Diana’s collection.
The sparkler features a central stone with two smaller diamonds either side and was originally set on a gold band, though eagle eyed royal watchers have since noticed this has been updated in subsequent years.
During their engagement interview in 2017, Prince Harry told the BBC: “The ring is obviously yellow gold because that’s what her favorite [is], and the main stone itself I sourced from Botswana and the little diamonds either side are from my mother’s jewelry collection to make sure that she’s with us on this crazy journey together.”
Meghan replied: “It’s beautiful, and he designed it. It’s incredible.”
Prince Harry joked: “Yeah, make sure it stays on that finger.”
Queen Elizabeth II’s Crown Amethyst Suite of Jewels
The queen has a spectacular collection of jewelry known as the Crown Amethyst Suite of Jewels.
The set includes a diamond brooch, earrings and necklace and originally belonged to Queen Victoria’s mother.
Elizabeth rarely wears the suite, though she did use the necklace at a state banquet in Portugal in 1985.
Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Diadem
Anyone who has been to Britain will know Queen Elizabeth II’s face appears on coins, and also postage stamps.
In those iconic profile images she is wearing the 1,333 diamonds of the state diadem first made for George IV but later used primarily by queens rather than kings.
The website of the Royal Collection Trust reads: “Set with 1,333 diamonds, including a four-carat pale yellow brilliant in the centre of the front cross, the diadem has been regularly worn (and slightly modified) by queens regnant and consort from Queen Adelaide onwards. This feminine association belies its origin, since it was made for George IV’s use at his famously extravagant coronation in 1821.”