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Thursday, 4 April, 2002, 16:41 GMT 17:41 UK
Priceless gem in Queen Mother's crown
Coronation
The Queen Mother wore the crown at the coronation
When the Queen Mother's coffin takes its place in Westminster Hall, it will be accompanied by her priceless crown.

With the famous Koh-i-Noor diamond at its heart, the dramatic crown will guard its owner through the three days of lying-in-state.

It was made for the Queen Mother to wear at the coronation of her husband King George VI in 1937.

The crown was new but the fantastic diamond at the centre of it was taken from Queen Mary's crown which had been set in 1911.


It is very important as the repository of some of the most fabulous and famous diamonds in the collection

Anna Keays
Historic Royal Palaces
The 105-carat oval diamond has a long and sinister history.

Legend has it that anyone who wears it will be incredibly powerful but male owners will die.

Its origins are fought over but it first surfaced in history in 1304.

Anna Keay, assistant curator of the Historic Royal Palaces, said: "The crown is very beautiful and also, which is not always the case with crowns, very stylish.

"Queen consorts' crowns have always reflected contemporary fashion and design much more than the sovereign's regalia."

Mountain of Light

The crown has not been worn since 1953 when the Queen Mother wore it with the arches removed at the coronation of her daughter.

In listing its special features, Ms Keays added: "It is very important as the repository of some of the most fabulous and famous diamonds in the collection.

"Not just the Koh-i-Noor, but also the 17-carat diamond set below it, which was given to Queen Victoria by the Sultan of Turkey in 1856.

"It is the only crown in the collection made of platinum.
Queen Elizabeth
The Koh-i-Noor diamond was set in a new crown

"And it was made at exactly the same date (1937) as the Imperial State Crown and so is the pair to the national crown of state."

Pakistan, India and Iran have all laid claim to it over the years.

At one time it was an heirloom of the Afghan kings and two years ago the Taleban leaders demanded its return.

They had lost it to the Sikh king Ranjit Singh.

When he died in 1839 he passed the gem onto his young son Duleep Singh.

10 years later, when the British annexed the Punjab, it is said that the diamond was taken from the young Sikh ruler, who was nine-years-old, and taken back to Britain by the Governor-General, Lord Dalhousie.

Sparkle

He presented the Koh-i-Noor - meaning Mountain of Light - diamond to her and it has been a centrepiece of Royal jewellery since.

It was re-cut in 1851 after being on exhibition at Crystal Palace.

Visitors had been disappointed that it did not sparkle more.

Its place in the Queen Mother's crown is at the centre of a jewel-encrusted Maltese cross on top of her crown.

The crown can also usually be seen on display with the other Crown Jewels in the Tower of London.

All the Crown Jewels are cleaned annually.


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02 Apr 02 | UK
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