Objects used to invest and crown the monarch variously denote his or her roles as Head of State, Supreme Governor of the Church of England, and Commander-in-Chief of the British Armed Forces. Wives of kings are crowned as queen consort with a set of regalia. Since 1831, a new crown has been made specially for each queen consort, the use of regalia by monarchs in Britain can be traced back to its early history. Most of the present collection as a whole dates from around 350 years ago when King Charles II ascended the throne. The medieval coronation regalia and Tudor state regalia had been sold or melted down by Oliver Cromwell. In addition to their use at coronations, a number of items are used at the annual State Opening of Parliament, royal christenings, weddings, and a few other state and religious occasions. When not in use, the Jewels are on display, mainly in the Jewel House. Although they are part of the Royal Collection and owned by the king or queen for the duration of his or her reign, following the Roman conquest of Britain in 43 AD, crowns and other symbols of authority continued to be used by the governors of Britain. By the 5th century, the Romans had withdrawn from Britain, and the Angles, a series of new kingdoms began to emerge. One of the used by regional kings to solidify their authority over their territories was the use of ceremony. The tomb of an unknown king – evidence suggests it may be Rædwald of East Anglia – at Sutton Hoo provides an insight into the regalia of a pre-Christian Anglo-Saxon king. He was also buried with a heavy stone sceptre, on top of which is an iron ring surmounted by the figure of a stag, a sword. In 597, a Benedictine monk had been sent by Pope Gregory I to start converting Pagan England to Christianity, the monk Augustine became the first Archbishop of Canterbury. Within two centuries, the ritual of anointing monarchs with holy oil and crowning them in a Christian ceremony had been established, and regalia took on a religious identity. There was still no permanent set of regalia, each monarch generally had a new set made. Edward the Confessor is depicted on a throne and wearing a crown in the first scene of the Bayeux Tapestry, in 1066, Edward died without an heir, and William the Conqueror emerged as king of England following his victory over the English at the Battle of Hastings. Wearing a crown became an important part of William Is efforts to cement his authority over his new territory, in 1161, Edward the Confessor was made a saint, and objects connected with his reign became holy relics. A crown referred to as St Edwards Crown is first recorded as having used for the coronation of Henry III in 1220
Image: UK Crown Jewels 1870
King Æthelstan presenting an illuminated manuscript to St Cuthbert, c. 930
Edward the Confessor is pictured with a crown and holding an orb and a sceptre on his Great Seal.