How Queen Consort Camilla’s Coronation Tiara Honors Queen Elizabeth II

How Queen Consort Camilla's Coronation Tiara Honors Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Consort Camilla and Queen Elizabeth II. Shutterstock (2)

Honoring her predecessor. As Queen Consort Camilla is coronated with King Charles III on Saturday, May 6, she’ll wear a tiara that pays tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth II.

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The 75-year-old royal (formerly known as Camilla Shand and Camilla Parker-Bowles) will wear Queen Mary’s Crown. After her modifications, the headpiece will include the Cullinan III, IV and V diamonds. The stones were part of Queen Elizabeth II’s personal jewelry collection.

“The choice of Queen Mary’s crown by her majesty is the first time in recent history that an existing crown will be used for the coronation of a consort instead of a new commission being made, in the interests of sustainability and efficiency,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement earlier this year.

The Queen Mary crown was created by Garrard & Co. for the June 1911 coronation of her husband, King George V. She later wore it without the arches as a circlet tiara for the 1937 coronation of her son, King George VI.

This isn’t the first time the Queen Mary crown has been altered. Just a few years after it was commissioned, the diamonds were replaced with quartz crystal replicas so the gems could be used elsewhere.

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The centerpiece was the controversial Koh-i-Nûr diamond, which many activists have called to be returned to India. It was obtained as part of a peace treaty and presented to Queen Victoria in 1850 after the Anglo-Sikh wars. It is considered a reminder of Britain’s colonization of India (which left the Commonwealth in 1947). The Koh-i-Nûr was moved to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother crown in 1937. It is currently on display as part of the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London.

Meanwhile, the Cullinan III and IV were set in a brooch for Queen Mary, later worn by Queen Elizabeth. (She memorably wore the luxurious brooch while celebrating her Diamond Jubilee in 2012). Camilla’s changes will restore the gems to where they used to be and add the Cullinan V in the Koh-i-Nûr’s place.

How Queen Consort Camilla's Coronation Tiara Honors Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II and Queen Consort Camilla. Paul Grover/Shutterstock

The Cullinan diamonds are from South Africa. The government of the Transvaal province gifted the stones to Edward VII as a symbolic gesture, indicating the healing relationship between Britain and South Africa (which is part of the Commonwealth). It used to be one huge diamond weighing 3,106 carats.

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Prior to altering the Queen Mary Crown, Camilla has taken several other opportunities to honor the late monarch, who died at age 96 in September 2022. At a royal reception for those who entered the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition in November 2022, the queen consort spoke fondly of Elizabeth.

“I cannot begin without paying tribute to my dear mother-in-law, Her late Majesty, who is much in our thoughts today and who is so greatly missed by us all,” she told attendees. “Throughout her remarkable reign, its vision to improve the lives and prospects of all Commonwealth citizens remained, as you know, very close to her heart.”

Camilla continued: “Over the past few months, my husband and I have drawn immense comfort from the messages of condolence that we have received, and continue to receive, from the four corners of the world. They have reminded us that the written word has a unique ability to connect, to heal, to reassure and to offer hope, even in the midst of grief.”

Charles, 74, married Camilla in 2005. Though Elizabeth did not attend the nuptials, she late made it clear — in a message on the 70th anniversary of her ascension in February 2022 — that it was her “sincere wish that, when the time comes, Camilla will be known as Queen Consort as she continues her own loyal service.”