My crown could break my neck: Queen's amazing revelations about her royal gems including how the State Crown is so heavy she can't look down to read speeches
- Queen Elizabeth II spoke candidly about vast jewellery selection in documentary
- She reveals her favourite garments and ones that are a bit of a pain to wear
- Monarch also makes revelations about her gown getting caught at Coronation
- The 91-year-old Queen’s comments to be aired in an hour-long TV programme
They may be worth millions, but as she examines the Crown Jewels the Queen could be any woman looking fondly at her jewellery box.
Among the precious rubies and emeralds, diamonds and pearls that illuminate the history of our nation, she has her favourites and those… that are, quite frankly, a bit of a pain to wear.
One is the ‘unwieldy’ Imperial State Crown, which the Queen confides is so heavy that in order not to ‘break my neck’ she is forced to bring her speeches up to her face to read them.
In a remarkably warm and chatty interview, she also reveals how, during her Coronation at Westminster Abbey in 1953, her elaborate gown got stuck on the carpet pile and for a moment she wasn’t able to move.
In the one-hour programme due to be screened this Sunday, The Queen speaks candidly and with humour about the experience of her own coronation, and the symbolic importance of artefacts associated with the sovereign
Queen Elizabeth II with her Maids of Honour and the Archbishop of Canterbury during the Coronation, which she addresses in the documentary
They may be worth millions, but as she examines the Crown Jewels the Queen could be any woman looking fondly at her jewellery box. Among the precious rubies and emeralds, diamonds and pearls that illuminate the history of our nation, she has her favourites and those… that are, quite frankly, a bit of a pain to wear
One is the ‘unwieldy’ Imperial State Crown, which the Queen confides is so heavy that in order not to ‘break my neck’ she is forced to bring her speeches up to her face to read them
The 91-year-old Queen’s candid and often arch comments come in an hour-long programme entitled The Coronation.
She is at her sparkling best, relaxed and full of gems of information about the treasures that are hers to show off.
The programme is the fruit of a collaboration between the BBC and The Royal Collection Trust, guardian of more than a million antiques and works of art on behalf of the nation, which tells the stories of some of its greatest treasures in a series of programmes over the next few weeks.
Unusually, to mark the 65th anniversary in June of her Coronation, the Queen agreed to appear on camera at Buckingham Palace with a selection of her Crown Jewels.
The treasures were brought from the Tower of London to be filmed as she reminisced with royal commentator Alastair Bruce.
Faced with her diamond encrusted Imperial State Crown, which she wore at the end of her Coronation and until recently used for most State Openings of Parliament, the Queen has an almost comically hostile expression as she unexpectedly pulls it towards her.
The documentary also features the St Edward’s Crown, which the Archbishop of Canterbury placed on her head at the moment of coronation. The Queen sees footage of the Coronation featuring her golden state coach, which weighs nearly four tons
Explaining how the crown was remodelled after George VI’s Coronation, she says: ‘You see, it’s much smaller isn’t it?’
Mr Bruce notes that it was ‘huge’ when her father was crowned.
The Queen replies: ‘Yes. Very unwieldy.’ She adds: ‘Fortunately my father and I have about the same sort of shaped head. But once you put it on it stays. I mean it just remains on.’
Crown Jewels hidden from the Nazis...in a biscuit tin
Many of the Crown Jewels were buried in a biscuit tin under Windsor Castle during the Second World War to stop them being seized by the Nazis, it has emerged.
They were placed inside a Bath Oliver tin like the one on the right and lowered into a hole dug beneath a castle entrance.
Grass was then left to grow over the hiding place to conceal it, according to recently discovered letters.
It was such a closely-guarded secret that the Queen herself only found out where the jewels had been hidden during the filming of the documentary.
Royal commentator Alastair Bruce discovered the former hiding place when he found confidential correspondence detailing the plan from royal librarian Owen Morshead to Queen Mary, George VI’s mother.
Asked if she has to keep her head very still while wearing the 2lb 5oz crown, the Queen replies: ‘Yes. And 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 [the crown] would fall off.’
Laughing, she adds: ‘So there are some disadvantages to crowns, but otherwise they’re quite important things.’
The Queen, who was 27 when she was crowned, is also shown nonchalantly flicking four pearls hanging underneath the arches of the crown.
Two of the pearls are said to have belonged to Mary Queen of Scots and to have been bought by Elizabeth I.
The Queen says with a sad laugh: ‘They were meant to be Queen Elizabeth’s earrings. But they’re not very happy now. They don’t look very happy now.
‘Most pearls like to be sort of living creatures so they’ve just been out, hanging out here for years, it’s rather sad. So they don’t look very happy.’
Mr Bruce responds: ‘Quite dead.’ She replies: ‘Well, I’m afraid so. I mean, the trouble is that pearls are sort of live things [flicks them] and they need… warming.’
The documentary also features the St Edward’s Crown, which the Archbishop of Canterbury placed on her head at the moment of coronation.
The Queen sees footage of the Coronation featuring her golden state coach, which weighs nearly four tons.
She comments: ‘Horrible. It’s not meant for travelling in at all. I mean, it’s only sprung on leather. Not very comfortable.’
When asked if she was in it for a long time, she pauses before smilingly responding: ‘Halfway around London. It can only go at a walking pace. The horses couldn’t possibly go any faster. It’s so heavy.’
Inside the Abbey, with the eyes of the world on her, the Queen is seen in her coronation dress, embroidered in silk with pearls, and gold and silver bullion thread.
The Queen says with a sad laugh: ‘They were meant to be Queen Elizabeth’s earrings. But they’re not very happy now. They don’t look very happy now. ‘Most pearls like to be sort of living creatures so they’ve just been out, hanging out here for years, it’s rather sad. So they don’t look very happy’
Reflecting, she laughs: ‘Well I remember one moment when I was going against the pile of the carpet and I couldn’t move at all. Yes, they hadn’t thought of that.’
The programme also shows home movie footage of the family group at Buckingham Palace. The Queen muses: ‘What did I do with the sceptre then? It’s gone. Somebody picked [it] up and took it out.’
A young Prince Charles and Princess Anne can also be seen playing underneath the train of her purple velvet robe.
‘Such fun for the children,’ the interviewer says. ‘Not what they’re meant to do,’ the Queen says with mock sternness.
The Coronation is on BBC One on Sunday at 8pm.
The ruby vandalised by Henry at Agincourt
One of the most eyecatching stones int he Imperial State Crown - and clearly the Queen's favourite - is the Black Prince Ruby's.
The 170 stone, which is actually a semi-precious spinel, is mounted at the front of the crown.
It is thought to have been given to Edward, Prince of Wales, known as the Black Prince who died in 1376.
In 1415 it was worn by Henry V in his helmet at the Battle of Agincourt.
He is supposed to have had a hole drilled in the ruby and a feather placed in it.
The Queen says wryly: 'Bit rash, but that was the sort of thing they did, I suppose, in those days.'
Sky's royal commentator Alastair Bruce of Crionaich
Alastair Bruce of Crionaich is Sky's royal commentator and former regular officer in the British Army
The son of Lieutenant-Commander Henry Victor Bruce of Salloch and Helen Vernon Wallop William-Powlett, Alastair Bruce of Crionaich is Sky's royal commentator and former regular officer in the British Army.
The well-heeled author and public speaker saw tours of the Falklands and Iraq during a military career that has spanned more than 30 years.
Bruce continues to have a role in the army as a Reserve Colonel, and is responsible for reservists in London.
Extremely well connected among the higher echelons of society, he has been a member of the Royal Company of Archers, the Queen's ceremonial bodyguard in Scotland, since 1990.
Alongside his successful military career, Bruce spent six years as a high-flying City exec as assistant vice-president of Merrill Lynch.
While also serving as a historical adviser for a string of Hollywood films including the Oscar-winning TheKing's Speech, The Young Victoria and ITV's award winning series Downton Abbey.
A successful author, Bruce has published a number of books including Keepers of the Kingdom: The Ancient Offices of Great Britain, The Oldest: In Celebration of Britain's Living History and Days of Majesty.
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