Let’s talk about the Crown


London (CNN) — This year’s State Opening of Parliament was a stripped-down affair, like every other public event these days. No carriages or robes for the Queen, and the Palace of Westminster felt like a ghost town on what is usually its busiest day of the year. Particularly poignant was the absence of the throne Prince Philip traditionally sat in as consort.
There was never any doubt over the 95-year-old’s attendance following her husband’s death. The sovereign is one of the constituent parts of the British parliament, alongside the House of Commons and House of Lords. The State Opening is the one day every year that those three parts come together. It is the Queen’s constitutional duty to attend but it’s also one of those annual appearances that make her part of the rhythm of public life. She knows that if she didn’t appear, it would disrupt that rhythm and undermine her other duty, to represent continuity and stability for the nation — and it’s in desperate need of that right now (You can watch the full speech here).
To Her Majesty’s immediate right this year sat the Imperial State Crown, which will outlive everyone as the enduring symbol of the sovereign.

It’s impossible to ignore, with the 317.4 -carat Cullinan II diamond shining out like a torch when it catches the light. The diamond sits below the Black Prince’s Ruby, which is said to have been worn by Henry V at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. The sheer value of the jewels in the crown makes it priceless even before you consider the history of the gems or what the overall piece represents.

On the Queen's right is the Imperial State Crown.

Other than the Queen, only two people are allowed to touch the crown. They are the Archbishop of Canterbury, whose job it is to crown the monarch, and the Crown Jeweller, who is responsible for its upkeep and its security every time it’s removed from the Tower of London.

It would make everyone a lot less anxious if the crown never left its vault, but this isn’t a museum item. It’s the working symbol of a living, breathing constitutional monarchy. The State Opening is a visual reminder of what the UK is, or at least how it works. The sovereign only has a symbolic role in British politics, so what would the monarchy be without its symbols?

The Imperial State Crown is driven back to Buckingham Palace after the event.
While filming a TikTok post at Westminster this week ahead of the Queen’s Speech, Max caught the exact moment the sovereign arrived. Watch it here.

ROYAL TEA BREAK

Prince Harry joined actor Dax Shepard in the latest episode of his “Armchair Expert” podcast. In a pretty frank and wide-ranging discussion while promoting mental health awareness, Harry shed light on an early date with Meghan (in a grocery store!), his wild youth and the pressure of growing up in the media spotlight. Shedding light on his new life in the US, the Duke of Sussex said: “Living here now I can actually lift my head and actually I feel different … you can walk around feeling a little bit more free.”

WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING?

Archewell’s latest partnership is with a company Meghan called out 28 years ago.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s Archewell Foundation announced a “multi-year global partnership” with American multinational consumer goods corporation Procter & Gamble on Tuesday. In something of a full-circle moment, royal fans may know that the duchess wrote to the firm at the age of 11 over a sexist dishwashing detergent commercial that focused on women doing housework. The ad was changed after her letter. The collaboration will “focus on gender equality, more inclusive online spaces, and resilience and impact through sport” — all areas Meghan and Harry have long championed.

Charles thanks Philip’s medical staff.

There were several royal engagements to mark International Nurses Day Wednesday, but one particularly poignant visit came a day earlier for Charles, with a stop at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in central London. During his visit, the Prince of Wales thanked healthcare workers for their tireless efforts through the pandemic and was able to meet some of the staff who cared for his father back in March.

Charles speaks with nursing staff during a visit to St. Bartholomew's Hospital.

Madame Tussauds moves Harry and Meghan’s waxworks again.

Madame Tussauds in London is mixing things up with its waxworks of Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex. Last year, the couple’s statues were moved away from the rest of the royal family, following the duke and duchess’ decision to step down from official duties. Now, the museum has announced that they have a glitzier permanent home: the “Awards Party” zone.
Waxworks of Harry and Meghan

DID YOU KNOW?

Royal-watchers paying particularly close attention may have noticed the Queen’s touching tribute to Philip while attending Parliament. Did you spot it?

While much was made of the Queen wearing day dress for the event rather than the usual ceremonial robes, she opted for the same outfit she wore in the portrait for the Duke of Edinburgh’s 99th birthday.

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh posed for a portrait last June in the quadrangle of Windsor Castle ahead of Philip's 99th birthday.

PHOTO OF THE WEEK

The Duke of Cambridge lays a wreath on the bench dedicated to Sergeant Ratana.

Prince William paid his respects on Wednesday to a police officer who was killed in the line of duty. Sergeant Matt Ratana was fatally shot in September 2020. The Duke of Cambridge honored the fallen officer during a visit to Croydon Custody Centre as part of his work promoting mental health and wellbeing of first responders.

FROM THE ROYAL VAULT

The Queen has been a pioneer in many ways throughout her reign, but she learned about one trailblazing moment from her teens while on a video call this week. Her Majesty was speaking to the Royal Life Saving Society, reminiscing about achieving her own life-saving award in 1941.

“It was of course all done in the Bath Club [in London], in the swimming pool. I suppose I didn’t really actually realize quite what I was doing because I think I must have been 12 or something. 12 or 14? It’s a very long time ago, I’m afraid.”

The then-Princess Elizabeth wins a life-saving award at the Children's Challenge Shield Competition, held at the Royal Bath Club in London on June 28, 1939.

Then Clive Holland, deputy Commonwealth president of the society, chimed in to inform the monarch: “Your Majesty, when you say it was a long time ago, it was in fact 80 years ago,” to which Elizabeth chuckled: “That’s terrible.”

Holland continued, “We know that you were actually the first holder of the award.” That news seemed to take the Queen by surprise. She replied: “I didn’t realize I was the first one. I just did it and had to work very hard for it. But it was a great achievement, and I was very proud to wear the badge on the front of my swimming suit.”

IN THE ROYAL DIARY

William and Kate’s UK radio takeover on Friday: The Cambridges joined a bevy of British celebs for the Mental Health Minute, a 60-second message broadcast simultaneously on more than 500 radio stations across the UK to “encourage everyone to keep the conversation on mental health going.” Estimated to reach more than 20 million listeners, the “message highlights how vital talking can be.” This year it went out on Friday at 10:59 a.m. (5:59 a.m. ET).

Harry and Oprah’s series gets debut date: A timely announcement as it’s Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK — the highly anticipated Apple TV+ documentary series from Oprah Winfrey and Prince Harry will premiere on May 21. The series “The Me You Can’t See” will feature stories meant to help lift the veil on the current state of mental health and emotional well-being.

“This last year I know has been deeply challenging for us all, I’m only too aware of the impact of the pandemic on the Muslim community. This year so many families, like my own, will have an empty seat at their dinner table and friends are no longer able to share the celebratory hug after Eid prayers.”

Prince Charles shares his sympathies with families who have lost loved ones due to the pandemic while sending a message to Muslims to mark the end of Ramadan.





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