This Is The Oldest Known British Royal Family Crown

While the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London may be better known, they aren't the oldest of Britain's royal regalia. The oldest crown known to have been worn by a British royal is Princess Blanche's crown, which dates to at least 1399, which is when its existence was first recorded in an inventory of royal jewels. It may have originally belonged to Anne of Bohemia, Queen of England and wife of King Richard II (via the Bavarian Palace Administration).

When the titular Princess Blanche married the future Elector Palatine, Louis III, in 1402, the crown passed into German hands, becoming part of the Palatine Treasury in Heidelberg. In 1782, it moved to the Munich Treasury, housed in a former palace.

The crown is full of splendor — it's made of gold and set with sapphires, rubies, emeralds, diamonds, and pearls. It is a fleur de lis design, with each point of the crown being in the shape of a lily. Each of these "stems" is detachable, and it's 18 cm in height and diameter, according to The Vintage News.

Who was Anne of Bohemia?

Richard II's queen, Anne of Bohemia, was the daughter of Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV, who was also King of Bohemia, now part of the Czech Republic. She married Richard on Jan. 20, 1382. The Westminster chronicler described her as a "tiny scrap of humanity," according to the British Institute of Historical Research. The marriage was controversial because Anne had no dowry but brought a large retinue of ladies and gentlemen with her, whose expenses had to be paid.

Richard and Anne had no children but were truly devoted to each other, according to the Institute of Historical Research. They often traveled together, and Anne interceded with Richard on behalf of those who had angered him. He was so grief-stricken when she died in 1394 that he ordered the Manor of Sheen, where she died, to be torn down. They are buried in a double tomb in Westminster Abbey. Along with her tomb, Anne's wooden funeral effigy head is still in Westminster Abbey, according to the Abbey's website.

Who was Princess Blanche?

Blanche was born in 1392, the sixth of seven children of the future King Henry IV of England and Mary de Bohun. Her paternal grandparents were Prince John of Gaunt and Blanche of Lancaster, for whom she was likely named, according to History of Royal Women. In 1399, Henry usurped the throne from his cousin King Richard II. Soon afterward, Blanche was betrothed to Louis, eldest son of King Rupert of Germany.

At only 10 years old, Blanche married Louis in Cologne Cathedral. Her dowry was 40,000 German nobles, or about £13,000 (via Dusty Old Thing). Although it was a political marriage, it was apparently also a happy one, according to History of Royal Women. At 14, Blanche had her first child, Rupert. Unfortunately, during her second pregnancy in 1409, she caught a fever, and she and her child died. Prince Louis wrote, "On the most unhappy morning of 22 May, my wife passed from this evil world into a better one." Though Blanche's life was short, her crown has a long history that persists to this day.