The Crown Jewels

The Crown Jewels Of England

As discussed in some detail in my earlier thriller The Cromwell Deception, the history of the Crown Jewels of England is arguably every bit as colourful as the gems themselves. While the original crowns, plate and regalia are believed to have been smelted down and destroyed or sold off on the instructions of Oliver Cromwell following the execution of Charles I, a new collection was subsequently created, apparently using gold from the previous jewels, for Charles II’s coronation in 1661.

The present collection, which consists of approximately 140 different pieces, including 13 crowns (sovereign and consort), 66 items of plate and various other ceremonial objects and vestments, is predominantly kept on display in a purpose-built bank vault inside the Jewel House of the Tower of London – the exception being five of the older crowns, which make up the heart of the display in the Martin Tower. Descriptions of both the key locations and the pieces mentioned in the novel are based on primary and secondary research and I believe them to be accurate. According to the staff, the current collection is worth an estimated £20 billion and is genuine!

The Crown Jeweller is the role given to the person charged with the task of maintaining the jewels. The workshop beneath the Jewel House does exist. The tunnels beyond it, almost certainly, do not. Understandably, the exact security measures and technology in place isn’t widely broadcast. Though I did try asking one of the Beefeaters, all that was really achieved was a laugh at my expense!

Only once in its history has the collection been the subject of an attempted theft. While kept in a locked storeroom in the Martin Tower in 1671, the then custodian of the jewels often showed them to visitors for a small fee, only to be attacked on one fateful occasion by a hot-blooded Irish-born military officer by the name of Colonel Blood, who attempted to make off with the crown of St Edward, the orb and the sceptre. Though considerable damage was done to the crown and sceptre, fortunately everything was recovered.

In light of this narrow escape, an armed guard has looked after the jewels ever since.