This tiny diamond crown was made in 1870 for Queen Victoria. The frame is silver, laminated with gold and set with 1,187 diamonds. When her husband, Prince Albert, died unexpectedly in 1861, Victoria withdrew from public events for an extended period of time. She wore mourning clothes for the rest of her life, and could not bring herself to wear her jewels with brightly coloured stones any longer.
This small crown, barely 10cm across, was created to be suitable to wear during mourning and something that could be worn over her widow’s veil. She wore it for the first time for the opening of Parliament on February 9th, 1871. It became one of her most recognizable jewels, and was worn by her in countless photographs, paintings, sculptures and on coins. Upon her death in 1901, it was placed on her coffin while she lay in state as Osbourne.
It was inherited and worn by her daughter in law, Alexandra of Denmark. She also passed it to her daughter in law, Mary of Teck, upon her own death. Shortly after he became king, Mary’s son, George VI, had the crown added to the display of regalia at the Tower of London.