This month, we have been marking the Bicentenary of the Birth of Queen Victoria by featuring her Top 20 Jewels, one for each decade since the Birth of 2nd-longest reigning British Monarch, in the 20 days leading up to the Anniversary itself, and today’s feature is her Small Diamond Crown-
Commissioned by Queen Victoria from Garrards in 1870, to wear over her widow’s cap as she continued to mourn Prince Albert, and found it difficult to wear the heavier Imperial State Crown and George IV State Diadem. The Small Diamond Crown features a diamond base with four cross pattée and fleur-de-lis and four arches joining at a monde in an openwork silver frame 9 cm across and 10 cm high, all set with 1,187 diamonds, including some that were taken from a diamond fringe ornament made by Garrard in 1856.
Queen Victoria first wore her new Crown at the State Opening of Parliament in 1871, and it quickly became a favourite, often worn it without the arches for many official portraits, including those taken for Golden Jubilee in 1887 and her Diamond Jubilee, taken in 1893. The Tiara was such an integral part of the Queen’s image in her latter years that it was placed on top of her coffin after her death at Osborne House.
Queen Victoria left her Small Diamond Crown to the Crown “to be worn by future Queens in right of it”, and it was frequently worn by Queen Alexandra during her husband’s reign and afterwards. The Crown was not pictured on Queen Mary or Queen Elizabeth, and in 1937, King George VI deposited it in the Jewel House at the Tower of London, where it remains on public display with the rest of the Crown Jewels.