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Tiara Tuesday - The George IV State Diadem

To mark Her Majesty’s 70 years since ascending to the throne, I colourised this lovely Portrait of Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II, originally taken by Dorothy Wilding on April 15th, 1952. Her Majesty was already Queen but had not been crowned yet.

Princess Elizabeth became heir to the throne in 1936 on the accession of her father George VI. She married Philip Mountbatten in 1947 and their first children, Prince Charles and Princess Anne, were born in 1948 and 1950. Elizabeth became Queen in 1952, whilst on an official trip to Kenya, after the death of her father. Her coronation in 1953 was the first to be televised and was broadcast internationally. Her sons, Princes Andrew and Edward, were born in 1960 and 1964. As Queen of the United Kingdom and Head of the Commonwealth, her Silver, Golden and Diamond Jubilees were celebrated in 1977, 2002 and 2012. She is now the longest-serving British monarch and the most portrayed individual in history.

On February 6th, 1952, King George VI is found dead in his bed in Sandringham; Although he had been suffering from lung cancer, his death was unexpected as he died of coronary thrombosis . Queen Elizabeth, who was in Kenya at the time, is believed to be the only monarch in British history, not to know the precise moment of her accession as her father was alone when he died.


In this portrait Her Majesty is wearing the George IV State Diadem, officially called the Diamond Diadem, a crown that was made in 1820 for King George IV. The diadem is worn by queens and queens consort in procession to coronations and State Openings of Parliament. It has been featured in paintings and on stamps and currency.

George IV commissioned Rundell & Bridge to make the diadem in 1820 at a cost of £8,216 - the equivalent of £700,000 in 2019. George IV wore the diadem over his velvet cap of maintenance in the procession to his coronation at Westminster Abbey.

The gold and silver frame, measuring 7.5 centimetres (3.0 in) tall and 19 centimetres (7.5 in) in diameter, is decorated with 1,333 diamonds weighing a total of 320 carats (64 g), including a four-carat yellow diamond in the front cross pattée. Along the base are two strings of pearls. Instead of the heraldic fleurs-de-lis usually seen on British crowns, the diadem has four bouquets of roses, thistles and shamrocks, the floral symbols of England, Scotland and Ireland respectively, alternating with four crosses pattée around the top of its base.

This Diadem has been worn by every queen and queen consort from Queen Adelaide, the wife of William IV, onwards. The diadem was reset with jewels from the royal collection for Queen Victoria. Queen Elizabeth II wore the diadem in the procession to her coronation in 1953, and she also wears it in the procession to and from the annual State Opening of Parliament.


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