The History Behind Queen Camilla's Coronation Crown (And How It Breaks Tradition)

On the occasion of Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee in 2022, she declared that upon her death and her son's ascension to the throne, his wife Camilla would become the queen consort, BBC News reports. Queen Elizabeth died later that same year at the age of 96, and her son's coronation, King Charles III, is set to take place on May 6, 2023. Per her wishes, Camilla will have a place at the ceremony. As part of that honor, Camilla will also wear a coronation crown in accordance with royal tradition, Town & Country writes.

One of many queenly titles, a queen consort, or simply the wife of the king, is much like any other type of queen in terms of status and honor, just without sovereignty or the ability to provide input on British affairs of state, as Cosmopolitan explains. According to Buckingham Palace, the coronation of King Charles III will be traditional in most regards but it will also reflect "... the monarch's role today and look towards the future." Similarly, the crown that Queen Camilla will reportedly wear has roots in British royal history, but it does break from royal tradition in one crucial way: Queen consorts at coronation ceremonies typically wear a crown custom-made for them. As for Camilla, though, this will be her crown's second appearance on a royal stage. 

Charles' grandmother was also once the queen consort

Instead of having her own lavish crown created, Camilla, Queen Consort will wear a previously-worn crown because wearing a crown only once is considered to be too ostentatious for a modern, more low-key coronation ceremony. According to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the decision was made "in the interests of sustainability and efficiency," quoting the royal website. 

So when it came time to select the crown she would wear at her husband's coronation, Camilla Parker Bowles had a seemingly easy task before her: Her husband's grandmother, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, was initially the queen consort to her husband, King George VI, according to the official royal website. Once King George VI died, and her daughter ascended to the throne as Queen Elizabeth II, Elizabeth (pictured) then became the queen mother. Once it was decided Camilla would break with royal tradition, she could have simply worn her grandmother-in-law's crown — but she will be wearing the crown of another instead.

Camilla will wear Queen Mary's crown

Rather than the queen mother's crown, Camilla will instead wear the crown of Queen Mary (pictured above with her husband King George V). Queen Mary wore this particular crown at George V's 1911 coronation, the Royal Collection Trust writes. Camilla picked Mary's crown over Elizabeth the Queen Mother's because Elizabeth's crown prominently features the Koh-i-Noor diamond. The Koh-i-Noor was extracted from the Indian Golconda mine while India was under British rule, and for this reason, the true ownership of the 105.6-carat gem diamond is controversial, CBS News reports.

On Camilla's decision not to wear the queen mother's crown, royal jewelry historian, Lauren Kiehna, told the CBC that the royal family members "... clearly don't want to add to the political pressure surrounding the diamond, which has been claimed by several different countries as their own rightful property. The royals certainly don't want the legal arguments over the Koh-i-Noor to be the focus of the narrative during the coronation." Also notable, the disputed priceless Koh-i-Noor jewel was once set in Queen Mary's crown but was then later reset on the queen mother's crown when her husband, King George VI, was coronated in 1937 (via The Royal Family website).

The crown Camilla will wear, though, will be reset with Queen Elizabeth II's Cullinan III, IV, and V diamonds — jewels fit for — what else? — a queen.

Queen Camilla adhered to tradition while embracing her own style

While Queen Camilla donned Queen Mary's crown, she paid homage to Queen Elizabeth II by wearing her Robe of State upon arrival, per People. The royal red robe is crafted with crimson velvet and was worn by the queen for her 1953 coronation. It has since been modified by Ede and Ravenscroft, a longtime tailor in London.

Aside from her crown and Robe of State, Queen Camilla wore brand new, custom-made garments at the coronation. Before leaving Westminster Abbey, she put on her purple Robe of Estate. In a video, Royal Collection of Trust explains the rich history behind the robe. Worn after the crowning, it only makes a brief appearance during the coronation. A blend of modernity and tradition, the cloak is timeless. The queen also stunned in a dress made by designer Bruce Oldfield, who was one of Princess Diana's go-to dressmakers. The white, floral-adorned gown reflected Queen Camilla's simple style and regal presence.