LONDON (AP) — St Edward’s Crown, the centerpiece of the Crown Jewels seen by millions each year at the Tower of London, has been moved to an undisclosed location to be altered in preparation for the coronation of the King Charles III next year.
The move was kept secret for security reasons until the operation was completed, Buckingham Palace said in a statement on Saturday. The palace did not provide any details or specify where the modification work would take place.
Charles will be crowned on May 6 at Westminster Abbey in a ceremony that will embrace the past but look to the modern world after the late Queen Elizabeth II’s 70-year reign. The Imperial State Crown will also be used during the service.
It is believed that versions of St Edward’s Crown have been used by monarchs since the 11th century.
The current crown was made for Charles II in 1661, replacing the original, which was cast in 1649 after the House of Commons abolished the monarchy and declared a Commonwealth during the English Civil War. The original is thought to date back to Edward the Confessor, who reigned in 1042-1066.
The crown features a 2.23 kilogram (4.91 pound) solid gold frame – set with rubies, amethysts, sapphires, garnets, topazes and tourmalines – a purple velvet cap and a band of ermine. It was worn by Elizabeth at her coronation in 1953.
Charles will be crowned in a solemn religious ceremony led by Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the palace said in a statement. Camilla, the queen consort, will be crowned alongside her husband.
The palace plans the coronation, known as Operation Golden Orb, as Charles and his heir Prince William seek to demonstrate that the monarchy is still relevant in modern, multicultural Britain.
While there was widespread reverence for Elizabeth, as evidenced by the tens of thousands of people who waited for hours to file past her coffin, there is no guarantee reverence will transfer to Charles.