Crowns are a symbol of absolute power. Therefore it makes sense that Denmark, one of the oldest monarchies in the world, has crowns dating all the way back to the 1500s.
The Crown of Christian V dates back to 1671. It was used by Christian V (1646-1699) and worn by all successive kings up until Christian VIII (1786–1848). After Christian VIII, the crown was no longer used for coronations or anointments because in 1849 Denmark adopted a constitutional monarchy. Being crowned or anointed wasn’t appropriate since Danish kings had limited powers and the public probably didn’t like the “anointed by God” explanation (just my guess!).
“Its rounded braces create a closed form inspired by the crown of the French king, Louis XIV, and symbolise the ruler’s absolute power. The crown’s braces meet at the top in a globe, or orb, which is a sign of power and dignity for monarchs. On top of the crown’s globe is a little cross, which in the symbolic language of the time showed that only the church stood above The Crown.” – The Danish Monarchy (You can understand why constitutional monarchs no longer wear crowns!!)
The crown was created by German goldsmith Paul Kurtz in Copenhagen. It’s made of gold and decorated with stones and enamel pieces. The crown holds a red velvet cap. You’ve probably seen the crown’s image in the Danish coat of arms.
Today’s jewel is no stranger to you! Queen Victoria commissioned her diamond crown after the death of her beloved Prince Albert. Queen Victoria’s Small Diamond Crown was made in 1870 by the crown jeweler, Garrard & Co.
There are 1,187 brilliant-cut and rose-cut diamonds set in the silver, open-framed crown. Victoria often wore the crown with her widow’s cap. She wore it for formal events and for when she conducted audiences. So, in a way it became her every-day crown. After Victoria’s death, it was worn by Queen Alexandra, but the crown has remained synonymous with Queen Victoria.
The small crown is part of the Crown Jewels. Perhaps when this pandemic is over you can view it on display at the Tower of London.
Today’s crown is more unique than the other crowns we’ve looked at thus far. It has the usual orb and cross. But unlike the other crowns, Sweden’s Queen’s Crown is studded with 44 incredibly large diamonds. On November 26, 1751, King Adolf Fredrik and Queen Lovisa Ulrika were crowned at Stockholm Cathedral and this crown was made especially for Lovisa Ulrika’s crowning.
However, there is some drama involved with this crown. At one point, someone close to the queen replaced the diamonds with crystals and smuggled the diamonds out of Sweden and into the hands of an antiques dealer in Hamburg. Luckily (and to make a very long story short) the antiques dealer returned the diamonds to Sweden and they’ve been set in the crown ever since.
Let’s learn a little about Lovisa Ulrika. She was born in Berlin on July 24, 1720 to Frederick William I of Prussia and Sophia Dorothea of Hanover. She was also the sister of Frederick the Great. In 1744 she married Adolf Fredrik and they had five children together. Only four reached adulthood, of which two became kings: Gustav III and Karl XIII.
Lovisa Ulrika was an enlightened person. She established the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, which to this day promotes the arts and sciences. She built theaters, patronized the arts and cultivated acquaintances with intellectuals. But she was also politically ambitious and attempted to influence politics through her husband. For example, she led an unsuccessful coup d’état to reduce parliament’s power and strengthen her husband’s position. After the king’s death she was sidelined by her son, Gustav III. She died in 1782.
Above is a photograph of Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia (also known as Maria Pavlovna the Younger) and Prince Wilhelm, Duke of Södermanland on their wedding day.
The Grand Duchess is wearing the traditional wedding jewels worn by all Romanov brides: the Russian Nuptial Crown, the Russian Nuptial Tiara with a rare pink diamond as its center stone, diamond earrings in the form of cherries and the collier d’esclave diamond necklace. Attached to her dress is Catherine the Great’s diamond mantle.
It was tradition for French kings to have their own coronation crowns made. The coronation crown of Louis XV is composed of a satin cap encircled by a band of gilded silver and topped with diamonds forming a fleur-de-lis. It was worn only once, at the coronation in 1722. Shortly thereafter, the crown was delivered to the Royal Abbey Church of Saint-Denis (today it’s the Basilica of Saint-Denis) where it resided with other regalia. In 1729, Louis XV requested that the 282 diamonds, 64 gemstones and 237 pearls be replaced with paste. The crown, with its imitation paste jewels, has been at the Louvre since 1852.
The Russian Nuptial Crown was created in 1840. According to Stefano Papi’s Jewels of the Romanovs, English jeweler Nichols and Plincke used diamonds from the collection of Catherine the Great to create the nuptial crown. There is mention in Geoffrey Munn’s Tiaras: A History of Splendour that Nichols and Plincke maintained the Russian crown jewels. At one point, the nuptial crown was stored in a specially-fitted case with the firm’s name. After the firm shuttered in the 1880s, Fabergé was able to win the Imperial family’s patronage. Through the years, the nuptial crown was worn by numerous Romanov brides, the most recent high-profile being the Tsarina Alexandra in 1894.
To raise funds for their regime, the Bolshevik government sold the Russian Nuptial Crown in 1927. It was auctioned by Christie’s for £6,100 (a very high price at the time) and in 1966 made its way into Mrs. Marjorie Post’s collection.
Today the nuptial crown remains on display at her home, Hillwood, which opened to the public as a museum in 1977. The nuptial crown is probably one of the most significant pieces of the Russian crown jewels outside of Russia today.
Permanent Exhibit at Hillwood Museum in Washington, D.C.
Christie’s The Jewelry Archives Revealed by Vincent Meylan
Jewels of the Romanovs by Stefano Papi
Tiaras: A History of Splendour by Geoffrey C. Munn