What Is The Crown Of Scotland And Why Was It On The Queen's Coffin?

As many know by now, Queen Elizabeth II passed away on September 8, 2022, at the age of 96. As PBS NewsHour reports, the entire United Kingdom went into a process of heavy national mourning for the queen. Many elected leaders, such as Presidents Emmanuel Macron and Joe Biden, have sent their condolences, and scores of memorials and tributes by various corporations and other public entities have come about.

There is an entire plan laid out for what happens after the queen's passing called Operation London Bridge (via The Guardian). The plan, named after the iconic British landmark, is a detailed list of procedures and events set to happen within a 10-day period. These include memorial services and the queen's funeral arrangements. 

On September 12, the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II was placed in St. Giles' Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland, where it was to lie in state for 24 hours before being flown to London on Tuesday, per Reuters, in preparation for the queen's lying-in-state at Westminster until September 19. As some might have noticed on Monday, the Crown of Scotland was laid on top of the queen's coffin. And as it turns out the crown (the first of four, via The Telegraph) is more than just a royal ornament and actually has purpose and history behind it.

What is the Crown of Scotland?

The Crown of Scotland is one of the oldest and most important jewelry pieces in the United Kingdom. As the official Royal website says, the crown is part of the Honours of Scotland jewelry set. These ornaments have been very important for British royalty throughout history and are the oldest of their kind in the entirety of Britain. The Honours consist of a scepter, sword, and crown, all of which come from both the 15th and 16th centuries, respectively. The crown itself was made for King James V and had gone through a refashioning in the years following. 

For many years, the Honours were mostly used to coronate new monarchs, though this purpose largely fell out of fashion over time, especially when the United Kingdom switched to a Parliament model. Today, the Honours are mostly public display relics held at the Crown Room at Edinburgh Castle. The Crown of Scotland has also been involved with multiple Scottish coronations, such as those of Charles I, James I and VI, Charles II, and Mary, Queen of Scots (via People).

Why was the crown on the queen's coffin?

Before the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II begins, her coffin will lie in state in St. Giles' Cathedral. According to the UK Parliament's website, to lie in state means that a royal member's coffin will be on public display in a state building until it's properly buried and laid to rest. Many monarchs have gone through this process, most notably at Westminster Hall, and it's considered a royal tradition to do so. There is a ceremony in which the coffin is raised onto a platform by royal bodyguards, which people can then pay respects to. 

As People explains, there was something else on the queen's coffin that people might've noticed: the Crown of Scotland. The reason why it's there is because the crown, along with the other Honours of Scotland, are sometimes ceremoniously used for special purposes. The death of the queen of England is a matter important enough to require it, and thus the Crown of Scotland was used as decoration. The crown itself is adorned with many pearls, amethysts, garnets, and gold, which undoubtedly serves as a fitting tribute to the late monarch.