The Royal Sceptre with the Cross

The head of the Sceptre with the Cross. Above the great heart- shaped Star of Africa diamond is a remarkable amethyst surmounted by a richly jewelled cross patee.

The head of the Sceptre with the Cross. Above the great heart- shaped Star of Africa diamond is a remarkable amethyst surmounted by a richly jewelled cross patee.

This sceptre, which is held in the sovereign’s right hand, is of gold surmounted by a magnificent diamond-encrusted cross with an emerald in the centre. Below the cross is a superb amethyst and below that is what is believed to be the largest cut diamond in the world. This is the pear-shaped brilliant known as the Star of Africa.

The Star of Africa is the only great gem in the regalia the history of which is accurately known. It was cut from an immense diamond found in 1905 by Air. Frederick Wells, manager of the Premier mine belonging to the de Beers company in South Africa. Walking through the mine he saw what he took to be a piece of crystal protruding from the rockface. He dug it out with his walking stick. Incredulous that so large a stone could be a diamond, he immediately took it to Sir Thomas

Cullinan, president of de Beers. Bursting unceremoniously into Sir Thomas’s office he exclaimed, “Look at what I have found!” Sir Thomas scarcely glanced up from his writing and said, “Wells, either that is the largest diamond in the world or you are fired”.

It indeed proved to be the largest diamond ever found — an unbelievable 3106 carats. It was named the Cullinan and presented to King Edward VII on his birthday in 1907 by the Transvaal Government with the request that it should be set in the crown of England. The diamond was far too large to be so used and the king decided to have it split. The man selected to undertake this extremely difficult and delicate task was Mr. J. Asscher of Amsterdam. The story goes that as Mr. Asscher delivered the vital blow to split the diamond he fainted. When he recovered and was shown how perfectly he had succeeded he fainted again!

The gold staff with the pointed steel tip was made in 1661 but it retains its ancient name of St. Edward’s Staff. It is carried in the procession but is not otherwise used. The King’s Sceptre with the Dove is in the centre, the King’s Sceptre with the Cross on the right.

The gold staff with the pointed steel tip was made in 1661 but it retains its ancient name of St. Edward’s Staff. It is carried in the procession but is not otherwise used. The King’s Sceptre with the Dove is in the centre, the King’s Sceptre with the Cross on the right.

The two pieces were later divided into four, the first and largest being the Star of Africa of 530 carats. The second, third and fourth stars of Africa have already been mentioned. (See Imperial State Crown and Queen Mary’s Crown.)

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