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Christian significance of Crown Jewels to be central in New Tower of London exhibition

by Premier Journalist

The Tower of London is to delve into the Christian symbolism and history of the Crown Jewels with a new exhibition in the Coronation year.

The display in the Jewel House, where the priceless collection is kept under armed guard, will explore the origins of some of the precious objects for the first time.

It will open in May, just weeks after the world has witnessed the Coronation of the King and the Queen Consort in Westminster Abbey.

“The Crown Jewels are the most powerful symbols of the British Monarchy and hold deep religious, historic, and cultural significance”, commented Charles Farris, Public Historian for the History of the Monarchy at Historic Royal Palaces.

“From their fascinating origins to their use during the Coronation ceremony, the new Jewel House transformation will present the rich history of this magnificent collection with more depth and detail than ever before.”

The new display will be the first major change to the Jewel House at the Tower of London for over a decade.

The display, leading towards the Treasury where most of the royal regalia is kept, also aims to evoke the spectacle and pageantry of the coronation procession and service.

It will begin with the state crown frames worn by past monarchs George I, George IV and Queen Victoria in a celebration of the "timelessness" of the monarchy.

It will go on to tell the story of how the original medieval Crown Jewels were destroyed on the orders of Oliver Cromwell in 1649 during the English Civil War.

Only the 12th century Coronation Spoon - used for anointing the sovereign with holy oil - survived.

The display will culminate in the Treasury, the vault that protects most of the Crown Jewels collection, comprising over 100 objects in total.

Among the spectacular items on display in the Treasury is St Edward’s Crown of 1661, which is used at the moment of crowning and is the most important and sacred crown within the collection.

The Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross and the Sovereign’s Orb, which are presented to the monarch during the moment of investiture, are also on display in the Treasury.

When the Coronation happens, the Sovereign’s Orb representing Christian sovereignty will be placed in the monarch’s right hand and later returned to the altar.

The coronation ring (representing kingly dignity) is placed on the Sovereign’s right hand. After that, the Sceptre with the Cross symbolises the Sovereign’s temporal power under the Cross of Christ, while the Sceptre with Dove – or Rod of Equity and Mercy – symbolises the Sovereign’s spiritual role.

The climax for the Crown Jewels at the Coronation comes when the Archbishop of Canterbury places the St Edward’s Crown on the Sovereign’s head. This is only worn by a monarch once.

On the way out of the Abbey, a newly crowned King or Queen will wear the Imperial State Crown (which was remade for George VI in 1937).

The United Kingdom is the only European monarchy which still uses its regalia for the consecration ceremony of a sovereign’s crowning.

New lighting at the Tower will allow visitors to experience the world-famous collection used at the Coronation like never before.

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