Queen talks about risks of wearing Imperial State Crown


The tin was then buried in a deep hole beneath a sally port - an emergency exit from Windsor Castle.

The remarkable story was unearthed for the BBC One programme by Oliver Urquhart Irvine, the librarian, and assistant keeper of the Queen's Archives.

Mr Bruce was able to "gently" nudge the Queen to elicit further insights which "worked very well" during the 90-minute encounter, which he described as a "conversation". "Telling her seemed strangely odd".

This correspondence was an "electric set of letters" from royal librarian Sir Owen Morshead to Queen Mary, the mother of George VI.

The trap door, used to access the secret area where the tin box was kept, is still there.

In a candid interview for a BBC documentary about her Coronation, the Queen has revealed how the crown could have broken her neck.

She also revealed that riding in an enormous golden carriage was less fun than you'd expect.

"You have to keep your head very still", Bruce said to the Queen while looking at the Imperial State Crown and watching footage of the Coronation in 1953.

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The head of state says in an extract from the documentary her crowning was the "beginning of one's life as a sovereign".

The television programme also sees the Queen, who celebrates the 65th anniversary of her coronation this year, speak of her mischievous children, a lost sceptre, and of wearing a dress that was so heavy, she was unable to walk.

"It's only sprung on leather", she added, and "not very comfortable".

The Imperial State Crown was made for George VI's Coronation in 1937 and is set with 2,868 diamonds including 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds and hundreds of pearls, including four known as Queen Elizabeth I's earrings.

"I remember one moment when I was going against the pile of the carpet and I couldn't move at all", she said.

"Fortunately, my father and I have the same shaped head, once on it stays (fixed)", said Queen Elizabeth II, aged 91 who on February 6 will have been the British head of state for 66 years, amply surpassing Queen Victoria's reign of 63 years and 216 days, between 1837-1901.

"What fascinated me is the idea of the royal librarian gauging out the Stewart Sapphire, the Black Princess Ruby, the Edward-the-Confessor sapphire, just gauging them out with a pen nearly, and a knife, and sticking them into this little circular tin, and getting them ready so that they could be rushed away to an even more secure place".