Queen Elizabeth actually doesn’t give a crap about her jewelry or the crown jewels

Queen Elizabeth II visits Kingston upon Hull

Queen Elizabeth II doesn’t sit down, like a peasant, for interviews. She speaks, of course, in formal speeches, in the simplified small talk of receiving lines, and that sort of thing. But the Queen does not submit to being questioned by a peasant. She does not “answer questions.” So this was weird, right? The Queen agreed to some kind of “interview” for a documentary on The Smithsonian Channel about coronations and crown jewels. She spoke to Alastair Bruce and she actually TOUCHED the crown jewels on-camera. She sort of jostled them around on what seemed like a shockingly shoddy table. Some videos:

As it turns out, those people who did get to watch the documentary – who has the Smithsonian Channel???? – were sort of amazed by how QEII seemed rather disengaged with all of those magnificent jewels. Like, she was sitting there with an absolutely gigantic diamond brooch, looking at the Koh-i-Noor and all of those sapphires and diamonds and she felt nothing. Alastair Bruce confirmed as much to People Magazine:

In a revealing new documentary, Queen Elizabeth speaks rather matter-of-factly about the royal jewels — and there’s no denying her sense of detachment. While she takes the Crown Jewels’ cultural and symbolic role very seriously, she’s just not interested in jewelry on its own, an expert says.

“The Queen is entirely disinterested in jewelry as a person,” says Alastair Bruce, who spoke with the Queen for The Coronation documentary, which airs on the Smithsonian Channel on Jan. 14 at 8 p.m. ET. “There are plenty of people I know who are excited about what they have in a box in their bedroom. The Queen is the guardian of a considerable quantity of jewelry, setting aside the Regalia, but “I don’t see her as somebody who’s particularly interested in diamonds and sitting there [cooing over them] like Elizabeth Taylor… Jewelry is one of the elements that helped her deliver the fact that she is Queen to the people she comes in contact with. It’s the trappings, and all these elements and symbols are seen by her as part of the job.”

The 91-year-old monarch displays a wry sense of humor during the documentary, and she surprisingly remarks at how “sad” the pearls on her Imperial State Crown seem – as they should be “alive” in the sea. She has certainly mastered the art of not appearing to enjoy the trappings of royalty and the fabulous artifacts that surround her and the sheer luxury of her position. This is a woman, who despite her estates, castles and racehorses, has modest tastes.

“The British public quite like the fact that she doesn’t go off on holiday on a beach by the Mediterranean but gets into country clothes, walks around in the rain and gets eaten by the midges in Scotland,” Bruce says. “She doesn’t appear to be exploiting the office for her own good. The symbols of the Regalia reminded her a bit of all that. That this is not for me, she learned it too from her father. I am making conjecture but the evidence is sort of there.”

[From People]

I believe QEII probably doesn’t care too much about the giant setpiece-jewels like that because she doesn’t believe they are “hers” – they belong to the nation, I’m sure that’s how she sees it. But clearly, she does like jewelry. She liked brooches and pearl necklaces and very simple stuff. But yes, I’ll believe that she probably isn’t visiting her jewelry vault regularly to play with her jewels, which… let’s be honest, all of us would love to do. I could play in her jewelry vault for DAYS.

QIPCO Champoins Day

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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112 Responses to “Queen Elizabeth actually doesn’t give a crap about her jewelry or the crown jewels”

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  1. LAK says:

    The nickname of the brooch she’s wearing in the documentary is ‘granny’s chips. It’s 2 ginormous diamonds on a pin, official name: Cullinan III and IV. It’s part of a set of 9 diamond jewellery made from the *chips off the Cullinan diamond rock presented to King Edward 7 from the South African government of 1907

    *chips being relative because look at the size of those things.

    In 1910, Queen turned the chips into jewellery incorporated into various pieces of royals jewels, and there they remain. They are easy to pick out when worn because they are huge stones.

    More about the rock and the ‘chips’


  2. Carol Hill says:

    Have been reading about the Queen’s jewels for years. The Queen does not care personally about jewelry. She always wears her engagement ring and the pearl earrings of her grandmother. She also wears certain pieces given to her by her parents regularly. The rest, she wears because it belongs to the Queen. She is not terribly interested in the jewelry. That job belonged to her grandmother, Queen Mary, who bought many of the Russian Crown Jewels and increased the supply of jewelry available to the Queen by hundreds. We should all have that type of grandmother!!

    • LAK says:

      Mother and great-grandmother were also very interested in jewels.

      Most of the current collection worn by the family is due to the magpie desire for jewels of those 3 ladies.

      The Queen’s disinterest in jewels is also evident when she attempts to design pieces. Always a disaster.

      • notasugarhere says:

        Her design skills are nonexistent as are Prince Edward’s.

        I think she cares about the history of jewelry and how items have passed through different family hands, if not the jewelry itself. The only book she approved/participated in about the collections was the personal one by Lesley Field, which took a “family treasures” theme.

    • We should aspire to be like Mary?? She never saw a diamond or gem she didn’t try to sweet talk or weasel away from its owner and how disgraceful of her to gloat over the Russian jewels when Czar Nicholas and his entire family were slaughtered, in part, because George and Mary wouldn’t give them permission to flee to England.

      • frisbee says:

        I’m sure I read somewhere she was also notoriously light fingered and would ‘accidentally on purposely’ help herself to a bit of what she fancied whatever that happened to be. An unattractive abuse of her power and position.

      • Kitty says:

        Mary paid for most of her personal jewels. A lot were from her wedding as gifts and royal tours.

      • Kelly says:

        @Enough Already, thank you! I’ve been debating over posting about how “dirty” most of those jewels are. And did George let Mary sway him from saving his own cousin? I thought there were political considerations, which is still hard to swallow.

      • Kelly says:

        @Frisbee, that sounds a little like Trump asking to try on someone’s super bowl ring, and then walking away with it.

      • KiddV says:

        @ Kelly – Didn’t Putin do that?

      • LV487 says:

        Putin stole the ring from Robert Kraft, owner of the Patriots. Trump has done enough stupid things on his own, no need to elaborate.

      • Kelly
        Those political considerations were fabricated by the BRF to absolve themselves of their decision to deny asylum to their Romanov cousins. Lloyd George and Parliament were blamed for many years but scholars and historians have never given any validity to that claim. Private papers since published have highlighted Lloyd George’s and Parliament’s frustration with George V’s refusal to save the Czar and his family. The king felt that the ttide of revolution sweeping Europe would spread to Great Britain if he harbored the unpopular Russian nobility. He didn’t want to risk making a bad PR move.

        As for Mary, I can not say definitively that she asked George to block the Romanov rescue but I will say this with 100% certainty – George V looked surpassingly regal in a uniform covered head to toe in medals but he was vapid, selfish, cold and shockingly unintelligent. It was absolutely clear that he couldn’t function, in any capacity, without his wife to counsel, update,tutor and bolster him. He simply wasn’t capable. Mary was naturally brilliant, e specially for her time period, and she was quite shocked when she realized George could barely read. She spent long hours reading important documents aloud to him, briefing him on important background information for meetings, Parliament sessions, tours, state dinners, dinner parties etc etc. It is impossible to believe he made any important decision without her. Their relationship was symbiotic even if it wasn’t romantic (he had a decades long love affair with Alice Keppel, great grandmother to Camilla Parker-Bowles). And Mary was all too aware of the strong, anti-German sentiment in GB at the time. Her Germanic roots were the last thing she wanted spotlighted and having the despised, German Alexandra Romanov hanging around her palace sipping tea and dripping with diamonds was not about to happen.

        The fact that the Romanovs ended up bayoneted to death in a filthy basement and Mary ended up with so many Russian jewels disgusts me.

      • graymatters says:

        Enough Already, I knew most of that but didn’t realize how dim George was. One thing, though, Alice Keppel was his father’s mistress, not his. I’ve read that George and Mary were faithful to each other and, in fact, were only affectionate with each other. They were cold and unavailable to everyone else, including their children.

        About Mary, I read a funny story about a time when she was expected to visit an aristo and the Lady X ran around the drawing room taking out anything of value beforehand — including furniture — because she didn’t want to be pressured into gifting anything to her royal visitor. I think she had to part with a small table.

      • graymatters
        Lol sorry about the brain goof re Alice. Yes, George was extremely deficient in his studies. Partly because his royal tutors didn’t expect much of him and partly because he just didn’t care. Mary, however, was determined that the king would not appear to be ignorant to others if she could help it. Interestingly, of their children only George (Georgie, future Duke of Kent) was a natural scholar who excelled easily at everything. If any of their poor, neglected/abused children could claim to be a favorite it was Georgie. George V and Mary were atrocious parents, even for their time period and Germanic upbringing. Mary loved George and was committed to popping out heirs and spares but she found pregnancy, labor, delivery and the thought of nursing to be revolting. But hers and her family’s social climbing and determination to land a prince, any prince (she was also engaged to George’s brother) make the Middletons look shy and reluctant. Say what you will, however, Mary worked with superhuman strength to uphold the monarchy.

        Interestingly, wealthy supporters of the Kennedys did the exact same thing if they knew Jackie was coming by. In her determination to restore the White House with period pieces she would stop at nothing to get what she wanted, all while batting her lashes and cooing in the affected little girl lost voice. She had one particular friend from whom she begged relentlessly for a priceless paiting for one of the White House state rooms. The friend refused to budge but made the mistake of going on vacation without telling his domestic staff not to let the First Lady inside his home if he was away. The friend returned to find an empty space on the wall and a note on the table that said “Got it. Fuck you!” with a heart scrawled on it.

        Mary would have been proud lol. Hands down my absolute fave Jackie story :)

      • magnoliarose says:

        If I can dig up a documentary about her that I watched years ago, I will link it for you. She was something else. I will say that.
        I was appalled when I read about what happened to the Romanovs due to George and their pleas for help. I love the photos from that time.

        One of the things I collect are antique hair combs from that time, and the Russian ones are truly lovely. Imperial jewelry and trinkets are great.

      • Kelly says:

        Thanks for correcting me ladies. It’s kind of hilarious that Trump is such a Putin wannabe that I confused the two in the story.

      • Kelly says:

        @Enough Already, that’s absolutely fascinating. I thought George and Nicholas were close cousins, or at least as close as a king and czar of different countries could be. I can’t believe that they didn’t at least negotiate to get the Romanov children out. If Mary weren’t so diabolical, she’d almost be admirable for the way she was able to manipulate and control in a patriarchal society. These stories are why I find the criticism of the social climbing Middletons so hypocritical. They will never be forgiven for acting no better than they ought to be.

        And the irony that Mary didn’t want Alexandra sitting around wearing garish jewels, yet managed to profit off of her death and wear the jewels herself . . .

      • Kelly
        Agree. Mary made a block of ice look warm and cuddly. I’m certainly no fan. You’re right about the Middleton double standard – their antics are downright quaint if you really look at the history of the BRF. And at least Mike and Carroll gave their children a warm, loving childhood.

      • Magnolia
        Vintage hair combs! I hate to sound twee but that is so romantic – I’ll bet you’ve got some amazing pieces. Aside from literary letters my collection is even worse than twee lol – vintage American Girl Samantha. It’s definitely my happy place :)

        The Romanov photographs are amazing. My mother was fascinated with Nicholas and Alexandra’s story so I unknowingly idealized the Imperial family my entire life. Of course as an adult you actually pick up a history book and the Danielle Steele mist quickly dissipates but somehow there is still such an air of beauty and opulence from that era that is hard to convey and impossible to recapture. Interestingly, a trove of never before seen photos of the Romanovs were recently made public and they are amazing! They’re unique because they are family snapshots as opposed to formal portraits and most were taken by Nicholas himself with his little Kodak Brownie camera. He was fascinated with photography and his camera was seldom far from his side. He was the historic equivalent of a photo bragging facebook mom! In one pic you can see where he has barged into Olga’s bedroom for a gotcha moment. She’s giving him so much teen “really, dad?” attitude with her facial expression that I got a surprising lump in my throat. He was just a dad whose one liners everyone in the family theatrically but indulgently groans over. She was the daddy’s girl who spends as much time rolling her eyes as she does somehow wishing she was still small enough to climb onto his lap for a story. The moment was funny, relatable, candid and yet timeless.

        “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
        ― Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

      • LAK says:

        The romanticisation (is this a word?!) Of the Romanovs is baffling to me. I don’t think they deserved the way they died, and certainly the children were innocents, but Nicholas and Alexandra are not victims.

    • FLORC says:

      The pearls she most often wears. Aren’t those from her father? The huge sentimental factor.

    • Katie says:

      They are not hers, nor are they England’s. They are stolen property from all of the countries England colonized, like Sri Lanka. Turn a country upside down then leave and with you all of its finest possessions. If she doesn’t care for them, maybe she should return them to their country of origin.

  3. lower-case deb says:

    play with it for days?
    i’d settle for no less than moving my bed to the inside of the vault!

  4. Merritt says:

    I think the Queen likes jewelry that has personal meaning to her like her engagement ring, the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara, and her wedding gift bracelet among others.

  5. Meow says:

    They are just rocks, after all.

  6. notasugarhere says:

    I watched it and didn’t find her disinterested at all. I thought she was funny and engaging, while the interviewer was scared spitless because he didn’t know how to respond to her dry wit.

  7. SammySushi says:

    Her Majesty’s Jewel Vault is a fabulous website. Lots of articles on the Cullinan diamond and where the 9 major pieces have ended up.

    The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendour regularly looks at and has reader polls on the tiaras of the European monarchies.

  8. Leducduswaz says:

    I’m going to have an image of the Queen swimming around her jewelry vault like Scrooge McDuck all day. Thanks for that.

  9. PIa says:

    I guess am not surprised. Liz is an outdoorswoman, and it was shown in the Crown that Margaret is the more feminine one who likes fashion and the jewelry.

    • Princessk says:

      The Queen always sounds fairly ‘disengaged’ or ‘detached’, I think it is an affectation of the upper classes not to show excitement or deep feelings about anything. She has been very well trained to hold in her emotions or rein in any form of eagerness and this has stuck with her all her life. I think it was the inability of this family to show deep warmth or a range of emotions that drove Diana crazy. Harry has decided to free himself of that kind of stiffness, and is not afraid to hug people. I wonder if the Queen has ever hugged any ordinary person, or even members of her family?

      Interestingly, I feel that Charles is much more in touch with his feelings than William is. But I do feel that the Queen in her later years has tried to be a bit more relaxed e.g the James Bond thing and Invictus. But she probably knows that she has to be confined to that straightjacket called the British Monarchy.

      I imagine the only thing the Queen gets excited about are horses or her corgis.

    • Veronica says:

      The Queen sure loves her horses, some of which cost as much as those jewels! But the things she loves, horses and dogs, many of us love.
      And was that “beach in the Mediterranean” reference a dig at Harry and Wills, too? The younger royals (and I say “younger,” not “young” cause they are on the closer side of 40) would do well to pay attention to how the Queen acts and behaves toward the extreme privilege she has. Do you think a plane would be easier on her than a train? Of course, but she knows to not poke the taxpayers in the eye with her spending. Wills, Kate, Harry, and Meghan now too all need to learn this, as they come across as tone deaf in this regard.

  10. Tan says:

    If you are covered with gigantic jewels from birth, I would think it makes anyone disenchanted.

    No wonder she and her descendants have no respect and value for money .

    • notasugarhere says:

      Queen Margrethe II of Denmark was also raised covered in jewels, and she takes an active interest in them and their history.

    • Wiffie says:

      Really think about though…. Let’s say you have a collection of 200 coffee cups that’s been passed down in your family. It’s too much for any one person, obviously, but there’s one particular cup that’s more special. It leaks, it burns you when you use it and you have to use it once every couple years, in this family holiday traditional ritual. You tolerate the painful burns. You appreciate the family history, honestly, but the actual one cup, can you don’t really have personal attachment to, it’s just one of these 200 some mugs.

      Thing is, people freak out over your cups, especially that one cup. Like everyone. So only using the cup once every couple years isn’t that bad. What’s worse, is every time anyone comes over, all they want to do is see and talk about this cup. So every time you have a play date, cup talk first. See the mailman, yep, just talk about the most amazing mug ever. You get told a lot that you don’t get it, because they would drink coffee out of it every day, and then milk, and wine, all day. but you tell them, nah, it’s not as great as it seems, the burns really hurt actually, and it always stains whatever shirt you have on. (imagine this conversation several times a day?) And every couple years when you have to stand there and blister your hands for hours and ruin another dress, if you even start to look remotely in pain or complain about the discomfort of the mandatory moment, you are poo poohed as ungrateful, because who wouldn’t want that problem they ask? (Burns, and stains?) “They are only stains. Burns are a minor injury. Stop whining. It’s a blessing. You should be lucky to talk about a mug all day, let alone 200!! How selfish and out of touch.” (Even though it’s just ceramic, and hurts…)

      People place so much value in trying to be like you and get a mug, but you tell them, you’ve learned that while it seems like a cabinet full of coffee cups is awesome, it’s not worth it. Talking about shows and weather and the freedom to not talk about the mugs, ruin another shirt, or tolerate blisterfest would be so worth it and you don’t get why this uncomfortable burden of ceramic is a life goal a because it’s literally just glass molecules. It’s a blessing to be chosen, yes, but nobody really understands the curse of the cup unless they experience it, because they can’t understand it. It’s out of touch, but others seem out of touch too.

      It’s about empathy. Real empathy. That’s my soap box for the day 😂

  11. Luca76 says:

    Ah the spoils of Colonialism charming.

  12. Seraphina says:

    I really loved the videos. Loved watching QE. She made me smile. I would love to play with those jewels and be allowed to go into the vault. Wow. I think I would have weekly visits and talk to each piece. Sigh. Maybe she is not interested also due to her age. My mom told me after a certain age, she lost interest in thy stuff and I know a lot of women who said the same. I personally think I love too much to let that happen to me.

  13. The greed and tyranny these jewels represent would make me ashamed to wear them. With the exception of coronation pieces I would only wear newer pieces commissioned and paid for by myself and/or family members from my own lifetime. None of that stolen, tainted, inherited stuff.

  14. A says:

    This annoyed the shit out of me. They need to give back those stolen jewels.

  15. homeslice says:

    For some reason, this makes me like her more…

  16. HadleyB says:

    She really lights up when she talks about her horses or you see her with her horses. She’d rather be in Scotland all day or out riding with her horses I think.

  17. Betsy says:

    Pearls need to be worn to shine.

  18. Sherry says:

    I think the Queen sees being Queen as a job and she dresses for work when she knows she’ll be seen. She wears bright colors and her big royal jewels almost like a costume or uniform.

    She seems to be happiest when she’s in the country with her dogs and horses.

  19. KellySunshine says:

    I have the Smithsonian Channel, but I’m in Canada, so for some reason, we didn’t get to see the documentary.

    Heaven forbid should they show a documentary about The Queen and her coronation in a Commonwealth country. (I really wanted to see the show *L*)

    I wonder if I’ll be able to find it online

  20. Cher says:

    The jewels should be returned to the nations from which they were stolen and/or misguidedly taken, instead of being locked away.

  21. themumy says:

    I don’t know what it is about her, but I just find her so beautiful, even still. She’s just utterly charming to me. And her eyes have sparkle to them when she smiles. Somehow I’ve become the Queen’s biggest fangirl…haha. But seriously, though, I just find her beautiful.

    • paddingtonjr says:

      TQ seems to have relaxed more over the past few years and shows more of her personality to a wider audience. Looking at the retrospectives that have been done recently, I think she was always attractive, but, even now, when she is genuinely engaged and enjoying herself, she has an absolutely beautiful smile that lights up her face and makes her eyes sparkle. It is sweet to see that she and Philip still seem to be in love; their faces still light up as they did at the engagement photo.

      I think TQ is, or at least was in the first 50 or so years of her reign, hyper-aware of the turmoil and lack of confidence in the monarchy caused by her uncle’s abdication. Her parents, though by all accounts loving and close to their daughters, probably drilled into her the importance of her role and how she shouldn’t take it for granted. Much like a priest or nun heeding a calling, she felt her first responsibility was to her role and she probably struggled with also being a mother and wife. Philip had a very chaotic childhood, but thrived in a regimented life (Gordonstoun and then the Navy) so he probably thought that would work in family life as well, which may not have been the best upbringing for someone like Charles. I think Charles’ marriage to Diana, who was very open with her feelings, helped him see there was another way to raise a future king and allowed him to be more open as well.

  22. Kelly says:

    The queen looks wonderful in most colors, but pale pink is not one of them.

  23. Chaine says:

    Seeing the “Crown Jewels” was one of the most underwhelming experiences of my tourism life. Up close, so many of them look like silly fake costume crowns that I just wanted to laugh in disbelief. Best to enjoy them as worn by royalty on television, and from a distance.

  24. CynicalCeleste says:

    Finding it odd she would not wish to see the coronation of her first-born son. Would that not be a proud moment any mother would cherish? Unless she too has such a disdainful view of the role that she can’t bear to see it put upon him.

    • notasugarhere says:

      Again, there is not a history of abdication in either the British or Danish royal families. That is not what they do. She and Margrethe II will be queens until they die, because that is what they’ve done – sworn to serve as monarch until they die.

  25. CarrieB says:

    @ Enough Already

    Edward VII was the one who had the affair with Alice Keppel, not George V. I am not aware of him having any mistresses. Also, a lot of the Romanov jewels were acquired through purchases at face value or above to help sustain the Romanovs financially that were given asylum in the UK (the Dowager Empress and her daughters for example). Though I agree that the whole blaming of Parliament (etc) for denying Tsar Nicholas II and family asylum is hogwash. Even if he couldn’t bring himself to offer it to Nicholas, what about Alix and the children? Disgraceful!

    • Mia says:

      I completely agree with your and enough already’s comments on the Romanovs. It is disgraceful. I especially feel for the children as they had no choice in the decisions of their parents.

      Also, I won’t be fawning over the Queen and acting like she is someone exceptional. From a historical point I would study her but I am not about act like she is someone worthy of praise for being born into the right family.

      I am waiting on her country to give reparations to my parents country in the name of my ancestors. I will be waiting until I a blue in the face. When the British left they cleaned out all our natural resources. They left us with nothing but act like they did us a favour.

    • CarrieB
      I was unclear and certainly did not mean to insinuate that Mary ended up with the Romanov jewels by stealing them. I meant that it’s a damn shame that she ended up with any of the vaubles at all.

  26. anon says:

    she didn’t mean the pearls were better alive in the ocean. Pearls should be worn close to the skin and come alive. the luster is different.

  27. Elizabeth says:

    I recorded (yes I still say that don’t judge me I’m old) The Coronation, I’m 12 minutes in & I already adore The Queen. She’s a hoot! And of course I have to keep wiping the drool off my chin from looking at these jewels…..

  28. Anare says:

    I didn’t even know I got the Smithsonian Channel. LOL. Watched The Coronation and loved it. So cool the little story QEII told about King Somebody from Long Ago who drilled a hole in that giant ruby in the crown so he could wear his feather During some battle. Love it! Interesting show. She is so no nonsense. I used to love to dig through my Mom’s jewelry boxes when I was a kid. Imagine getting into the Queen’s vault. OMFG!

    • notasugarhere says:

      Lots of good stuff on Smithsonian Channel, including Million Dollar American Princesses narrated by Elizabeth McGovern. Stories of the wealthy Americans who married aristocracy and saved historic family estates from the chopping block.

  29. Aileen Rosenberg says:

    I noticed the queen sat with her legs crossed. I thought this was not done.

  30. iseepinkelefants says:

    I’m not a jewelry person either. I don’t see the fuss in a bunch of rocks. I can understand her view of it. Ok they sparkle, I can buy some cheaper fakes and be just as happy with them.

  31. holly hobby says:

    I guess if she lived most of her adult life with these it’s no big deal. However, I’d be playing in the vault for days! I love well made jewelry. Especially those dating back for centuries.