If you haven't watched The Coronation, the documentary airing in honor of the 65th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II's coronation, it's an excellent look into the life of one of the most famous women in the world, and the first time she's ever done anything close to a sit-down television interview.
The documentary aired this weekend on both the BBC and the Smithsonian channels, detailing the fascinating history of the Crown Jewels, and the (frankly bizarre) ceremony that passes the kingdom's highest title from one monarch to the next.
One of the most charming things we learned – and we were charmed by the Queen, who is much more casual with the Crown Jewels than expected – was that she has a favorite jewel in her Imperial State Crown.
After the crown is brought over to her, by a person handling it ever-so-gently in a pair of white gloves, she grabs it and scoots it even closer. Smiling, she says "This is what I do when I wear it," she says, spinning the gloriously diamond encrusted crown around. "I like the Black Prince's ruby" she exclaims, turning the crown to show a gorgeous, smooth ruby the size of an avocado pit to the front.
The Black Prince's ruby, set in the Maltese Cross, is actually not a ruby but is one of the world’s largest gem-quality red spinels, a polished stone 2 inches long, pierced, and partly filled with a small ruby. The stone was given to Edward the Black Prince by Pedro the Cruel, king of Castile, in 1367.
It must have been tough to pick a favorite, as the Imperial State Crown has many precious gems, including: 2,868 diamonds, 273 pearls, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds, and five rubies. However, it is not the oldest gem on the crown. That honor goes to the St. Edward 's Sapphire set at the top of the Crown, originally set into a coronation ring by Edward the Confessor in 1042.
The Queen also makes some very astute observations on the whole process of being crowned, and it doesn't sound like very much fun. At one point, in the third act of coronation, her regalia is removed and she wears a simple dress. When asked why her earrings weren't removed she says, "They had enough trouble with the necklace," she drily observes.
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