News center
All-inclusive business

Royal Family: Some of the jewels from King Charles’ Crown were kept in a biscuit tin in a dungeon

Aug 09, 2023

The King's Crown that will be used in the historic ceremony has an unbelievable history

All the information you'll ever need on the UK's most famous family

We have more newsletters

The Crown Jewels are among the most recognisable and expensive items in the world and include the likes of St Edward's Crown, the Imperial State Crown and the Sovereign's Orb and Sceptre.

The famous items are normally stored in the Jewel House at the Tower of London and are protected by bomb proof glass and more than 100 hidden security cameras, however they are understood to have been removed ahead of King Charles' Coronation in less than two months time.

Coronation aside, the priceless items are only removed from their secure location for special reasons, such as the State Opening of Parliament - but it hasn't always been that way. There was a time when the priceless items were kept in a very unexpected place to protect them from danger.

READ MORE: The essential jobs Queen Camilla and Kate Middleton will do shortly after King Charles' Coronation with one major twist

While King Charles will be crowned using St Edward's Crown, the Imperial State Crown which was frequently used by the late Queen has a fascinating history.

Royal expert Alastair Bruce made a startling discovery about what happened to the Crown Jewels during World War Two, and what makes the story even better is that the late Queen herself had no idea. Mr Bruce said he came across an "electric set of letters" that were written by royal librarian Sir Owen Morshead to Queen Mary about his concerns for the precious jewels and how to protect them from falling into enemy hands.

Mr Bruce detailed how King George VI then ordered a "deep hole" to be dug in the grounds of Windsor Castle "beneath a sally port, one of the secure entries to the castle, and two chambers constructed with steel doors. They dug out this fresh, very virgin white chalk and they had to hide it with tarpaulins so when the aircraft flew over at night no clue was given to the German Luftwaffe that anything was going on."

What makes the story even better is that the most valuable jewels - the Black Prince's Ruby and St Edward's Sapphire - were removed from the Imperial State Crown and kept separately in the biscuit tin "in case of emergency." Speaking to Mr Bruce about her coronation and the jewels in a documentary for the BBC, The Queen said she knew that the historical regalia had been hidden at Windsor Castle, but had no idea of the exact details.

Mr Bruce revealed that explaining the incredible story to the Queen was unique. He said: "What was so lovely was that the Queen had no knowledge of it …Telling her seemed strangely odd." As the Queen spoke to Mr Bruce about her coronation that took place on June 2, 1953, she made many candid revelations about the crown, saying: "It weighs a ton".

She went on to describe it as "unwieldy", saying: "You can't look down to read the speech, you have to take the speech up because if you did, your neck would break - it would fall off," she laughed. So there are some disadvantages to crowns, but otherwise they’re quite important things."

St Edward's Crown - which will be used to Crown King Charles on May 6 - also has an unbelievable history that includes being stolen from the Tower of London and smashed flat with a mallet. While you would imagine that stealing the monarch's crown would be result in a charge of high treason, the bold perpetrator was in fact pardoned and rewarded with a pension and an estate in Ireland.

In 1671, Irish radical Colonel Thomas Blood convinced the Jewel Keeper to show him and his three friends the Crown Jewels but once they were inside the room, a cloak was thrown over the elderly guard and he was hit on the head with a mallet, bound, gagged and stabbed to keep him from fighting back.

Once they removed the metal grate, Blood used the mallet to flatten St. Edward's Crown so that he could hide it beneath his coat while another member of the gang filed the Sceptre in half so that it would fit in the bag and the third man stuffed the Sovereign's Orb down his trousers. Despite his injuries, 77-year-old Edwards refused to stay down and raised the alarm by shouting "Treason! Murder! The Crown is stolen!"

Despite being captured, Blood was questioned by King Charles II and other senior officials and was asked "What if I should give you your life?", to which Blood replied: "I would endeavour to deserve it, Sire!" Blood was ultimately pardoned and granted an annual income of £500 a year (£85.8k today), as well as an estate in his native Ireland.

Want more from MyLondon? Sign up to our daily newsletters for all the latest and greatest from across London here.


Royal expert reveals the value of last stamps to feature the Queen and the ones that will really make you money

Royal Family expert hints at famous figures who will be cut from King Charles' Coronation guest list

The very posh lessons Prince George gets at his Windsor school to prepare him for his future as King