The Sceptre and Orb From the British Crown Jewels Will Play a Key Role in Charles's Coronation

The British monarchy is never lacking in history and custom, and while it's been speculated that many of those traditions could be subject to change under the reign of King Charles III, one that's likely to stay on is the use of the Sovereign’s Sceptre and Sovereign’s Orb during his coronation.

The sceptre and orb came into the spotlight most recently when they were place on the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II during her state funeral in September, but they've been part of the coronation of British monarchs for centuries.

Part of the Crown Jewels—a collection of more than 100 objects that are "of incalculable cultural, historical, and symbolic value," according to Historic Royal Palaces, a charity that manages historic sites like the Tower of London, where the Crown Jewels are held—the sceptre and orb are two of the most storied and iconic objects associated with the royal family. Both pieces date back to the seventeenth century, and are a major part of the coronation ceremony when a new monarch officially takes the throne, because each has a special meaning connected to the monarch's reign.

The sceptre is meant to represent the crown’s power and governance, and has been used in every coronation since 1661, when it was created for the coronation of King Charles II. It's not quite in its original condition, though—in 1910, when King George V, Queen Elizabeth's grandfather, had the sceptre altered to include the massive, 530.2 carat Cullinan I diamond. The largest cut white diamond in the world, it's part of a set of gems fashioned from the original 3,106 carat Cullinan diamond unearthed in South Africa in 1905 (the second largest of the stones, the Cullinan II, is set into the Imperial State Crown.)

The orb is also a significant part of the traditional coronation regalia. The golden jeweled ball, surmounted by a gem-encrusted cross is designed as a symbol that the monarch's power is derived from God. Like the sceptre, it was created in 1661.

Prior to Elizabeth II's funeral, the last time these parts of the coronation regalia were used was in 1953, when the Queen had her coronation.

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