George IV State Diadem

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Queen Victoria wearing the diadem Queen Victoria 1859.jpg
Queen Victoria wearing the diadem

The George IV State Diadem, officially the Diamond Diadem, is a crown that was made in 1820 for King George IV. The diadem is worn by queens and queens consort in procession to coronations and State Openings of Parliament. It has been featured in paintings and on stamps and currency.



George IV commissioned Rundell & Bridge to make the diadem in 1820 at a cost of £8,216. The fee included a hire charge of £800 for the diamonds but there is no evidence they were ever returned to the jewellers. [1] George IV wore the diadem over his velvet cap of maintenance in the procession to his coronation at Westminster Abbey. [2] These are the equivalent of £700,000 and £60,000 in 2019, respectively. [3]


Queen Mary wearing the diadem Queen Mary (1867-1953) 1912-13.png
Queen Mary wearing the diadem

The gold and silver frame, measuring 7.5 centimetres (3.0 in) tall and 19 centimetres (7.5 in) in diameter, is decorated with 1,333 diamonds weighing a total of 320 carats (64 g), including a four-carat yellow diamond in the front cross pattée. [4] Along the base are two strings of pearls. Originally, the upper string had 86 pearls and the lower 94, but they were changed to 81 and 88 in 1902. [5] Instead of the heraldic fleurs-de-lis usually seen on British crowns, the diadem has four bouquets of roses, thistles and shamrocks, the floral symbols of England, Scotland and Ireland respectively, [6] alternating with four crosses pattée around the top of its base.


It has been worn by every queen and queen consort from Queen Adelaide, the wife of William IV, onwards. The diadem was reset with jewels from the royal collection for Queen Victoria. [7] Queen Elizabeth II wore the diadem in the procession to her coronation in 1953, [8] and she also wore it in the procession to and from the annual State Opening of Parliament. [9]

In art, stamps, and currency

Sculpture used to make the Machin series of stamps Elizabeth II Machin head sculpture (straightened & cropped).jpg
Sculpture used to make the Machin series of stamps

The iconic piece of jewellery has featured in many portraits of Queen Elizabeth II, including one painted by Lucian Freud in 2001 [10] and one by Raphael Maklouf in 1984 that appears on Commonwealth coinage.

Arnold Machin designed an earlier portrait in the 1960s that was used on coins and the Machin series of postage stamps in the UK. [11]

The diadem has also featured on the banknotes of most Commonwealth realms, and those of Anguilla, Bermuda, British Guiana, British Honduras, British Virgin Islands, Cyprus, Dominica, Fiji, British Hong Kong, Malaya, Malta, Mauritius, British North Borneo, Rhodesia and Nyasaland, Southern Rhodesia, St Kitts and Nevis and Trinidad and Tobago.

See also

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  1. "The Diamond Diadem". Royal Collection Trust . Inventory no. 31702.
  2. Ronald Allison; Sarah Riddell (1991). The Royal Encyclopedia. Macmillan Press. p. 173. ISBN   978-0-333-53810-4.
  3. United Kingdom Gross Domestic Product deflator figures follow the Measuring Worth "consistent series" supplied in Thomas, Ryland; Williamson, Samuel H. (2018). "What Was the U.K. GDP Then?". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
  4. The Journal of Gemmology. Vol. 23. Gemmological Association of Great Britain. 1992. p. 41.
  5. Edward Francis Twining (1960). A History of the Crown Jewels of Europe. B. T. Batsford. p. 169.
  6. Paul D. Van Wie (1999). Image, History and Politics: The Coinage of Modern Europe. University Press of America. pp. 63–64. ISBN   978-0-7618-1222-7.
  7. Sophie McConnell (1991). Metropolitan Jewelry. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art. p. 56. ISBN   978-0-87099-616-0.
  8. Don Coolican (1986). Tribute to Her Majesty. Windward/Scott. p. 273. ISBN   978-0-7112-0437-9.
  9. Jerrold M. Packard (1981). The Queen & Her Court: A Guide to the British Monarchy Today . Scribner. p.  162. ISBN   978-0-684-16796-1.
  10. "The Queen: Portraits of a Monarch - Lucian Freud". Royal Collection Trust. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  11. Country Life. Vol. 196. 2002. p. 161.