A little girl nowadays ‘needs’ a princess dress and a little golden crown on her head. And the dress is pink, period. All the little girls want to go to school in their princess dresses and they play that they are a princess. No idea, where this trend in the Netherlands comes from, maybe fairy tales. I have no idea.
The idea is that she is standing out of the crowd. The same as a king or queen wants. In one way or another, the crown is one of the royal regalia and the most important one. In all cultures, important and powerful people wear something special on their heads. And the crown is designed to look high and mighty. Since a crown is most of the time a high kind of head, the person wearing it looks larger.
The Dutch royal couple
The word ‘crown’ means the item on top of the king’s head. And it means the monarchy itself. When you become a king you get all kinds of symbols of your power, like a sword, or a scepter, a special ring, and a crown. With the exception of the Belgium king. He swears that he serves his people before parliament. That’s all.
We focus on the king’s crown in this blog post.
Rich, richer, richest
Since the king is a very special and important person, the symbol of this power is special too. In the Western world, the crown is made of gold, silver, and a fur base (more comfortable), decorated with beautiful and extraordinary gemstones. The English crown has a very famous diamond on top of it, the Koh-i-Noor. That is one of the largest cut diamonds in the world. A nice present from India.
But when in a certain culture another metal or item is valuable people use that to decorate the crown. Like in Indonesia one of the kings uses a silk head with an enormous diamond brooch on it. The king of Lesotho has a silver one full of diamonds in the shape of a woven-grass rain hat.
The king of the Yoruba people has a yellow piece, made of beads. And he has one made of a fabric cap decorated with agate beads.
Starting a ‘crown’ tradition
Since the pre-history rules wear special headgear to show their power. And since that time on that special headgear is made of valuable materials of items. The Native American chiefs of kings had headgear of valuable feathers. In Antiquity, they use golden leaves in the shape of a diadem to stand out like a king or leader. Old civilizations that live between the Eufrat and the Tigris wear double crowns and the Romans have a diadem.
The oldest Christian crown in Europe is the Iron Crown of Lombardy. Iron in those days is a very rare material and therefore a perfect base for a crown.
The loss of crowns
A monarchy is a way to rule a country and in Europe, there are times people reject the monarchy. And therefore all the symbols (like the crown) of that rejected monarchy.
In the French Revolution, the king does not survive and the Republic that gets the power sells the French Crown Jewels in 1885. For historical reasons, one of the crowns survives and with the glass beads that replace the gemstones, it is in the Louvre. The Spanish Crown Jewels are destroyed in a big fire and the Irish Crown Jewels are stolen in 1907 from the Dublin Castle.
The European kings or queens that are still in office have one (yes only one). And that crown is used over and over again. It is sometimes owned by the people and sometimes belongs to the heritage of the king’s family.
A lot of replicas in the world are in the Diamond Museum in Amsterdam. It is fascinating to see what material people during time think are suitable to use to make a crown. Fascinating to see how rich European royal families are or once were. The craftsmanship of cutting and polishing the beautiful gemstones and precious metals used.
Enjoy looking at these treasures and know that nowadays the real power is to the people and the kings/queens work for us.
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