Crown of Scotland

The Crown of Scotland is the crown that was used at the coronation of the monarchs of Scotland. Remade in its current form for King James V of Scotland in 1540, the crown is part of the Honours of Scotland, the oldest surviving set of Crown jewels in the British Isles. The crown dates from at least 1503 when, in an earlier form, it was depicted in the portrait of King James IV in the Book of Hours commissioned for his marriage to Margaret Tudor.

Crown of Scotland
The Queen at the Scottish Parliament - crop.jpg
Heraldic depictions
Royal Crown of Scotland (Heraldry).svg
Made1540 (remade from prior version)
OwnerQueen Elizabeth II as Monarch of the United Kingdom
Weight1.64 kg (3.6 lb)
MaterialScottish gold[1]
PredecessorsThe pre-1540 crown was remade into the current version


In January 1540, King James V commissioned the royal goldsmith, John Mosman, to refashion the Crown of Scotland. The existing crown was delicate and had been repaired at least twice in the previous 30 years, and a 1539 inventory showed further damage, including the loss of one fleur-de-lis. Mosman dismantled the old crown and removed its stones and pearls. The crown was melted down, and Mosman added 41 ounces of Scottish gold mined at Crawford Moor in Lanarkshire.[2]

Constructed of solid gold, the crown consists of a base with fleurs-de-lis alternating with crosses fleury. The arches of the crown are decorated with gold and red oak leaves. At the intersection of the arches is a golden monde, painted blue with gold stars. The monde is surmounted by a large cross, decorated in gold and black enamel with pearls. The crown is encrusted with 22 gemstones, including garnets and amethysts, 20 precious stones and 68 Scottish freshwater pearls.

James V ordered a purple and ermine bonnet from tailor Thomas Arthur of Edinburgh to fit inside the crown.[3] James VII ordered the colour of the bonnet be changed to red. The bonnet had to be replaced several times, and the present bonnet was made in 1993. The completed crown weighs 1.64 kg (3 lb 10 oz).


The Crown of Scotland at the opening of the Scottish Parliament in July 2011.

The crown was first worn in the year of its manufacture by James V to the coronation at Holyrood Abbey of his second wife, Mary of Guise, as queen consort. It was subsequently used in the coronations of the child monarchs Mary I in 1543 and James VI in 1567.

In the absence of a resident Scottish monarch following the Union of the Crowns in 1603, (on James VI inheriting the thrones of England and Ireland the Royal Household relocated from Edinburgh to London), the Honours were carried to sittings of the Parliament of Scotland to symbolise the sovereign's presence and the Royal Assent to legislation.

The crown was used for the Scottish coronations of both Charles I in 1633 and Charles II in 1651. However, no subsequent monarchs of Scotland were crowned using this crown.

During the Civil War, having already destroyed the ancient English Crown Jewels, Oliver Cromwell sought to destroy the Scottish Crown Jewels. However, the Honours were secretly buried until the monarchy was restored in 1660.

Following the Act of Union of 1707, which unified the Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England to form the Kingdom of Great Britain, and having no ceremonial role to play in the proceedings of the new Parliament of Great Britain in London, the Honours were locked away in Edinburgh Castle. There they remained all but forgotten in a chest until 1818, when a group of people including Sir Walter Scott set out to find them. Since 1819 they have been on display in the Crown Room of Edinburgh Castle from where they are removed only for state occasions. The first was when presented to King George IV, at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in 1822, during his visit to Scotland (the first visit to Scotland by a reigning monarch since 1651).

On 24 June 1953, following her coronation at Westminster Abbey, the crown was carried before Queen Elizabeth II in a procession from the Palace of Holyroodhouse to the High Kirk of St Giles, Edinburgh, where the Honours of Scotland, including the crown, were presented to The Queen during a National Service of Thanksgiving.

More recently, the crown has been present at the official opening ceremonies of sessions of the Scottish Parliament, including the first in 1999,[4] and the official opening of the new Scottish Parliament Building in 2004.[5] On such occasions the crown, carried by the Duke of Hamilton, the hereditary bearer of the Crown of Scotland, immediately precedes Her Majesty The Queen in the custom of the ancient opening ceremonial procession known as the Riding of Parliament.

Appearance in heraldryEdit

The Royal Arms of the United Kingdom used in Scotland, with the Crown of Scotland in prime position on the helm, upon the red lion sejant affronté on the crest and upon the unicorn supporter. The crown upon the golden lion supporter is St Edward's Crown, which has been a symbol of Royal Authority throughout the Commonwealth since 1953.

As well as appearing in the Royal coat of arms of the UK used in Scotland and Scottish versions of the Royal Cypher, the crown appears in the version of the UK royal arms used by the Scotland Office, and also appeared in the arms used by the former Scottish Executive.

Appearance elsewhereEdit

Stylised versions of the crown appear upon the badges of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, The Royal British Legion Scotland, the Scottish Ambulance Service, Police Scotland and, (As part of the Crest of the Royal Arms), upon the logos of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, RCAHMS, and General Register Office for Scotland.

A version of the crown is used upon Royal Mail premises, vehicles and Scottish pillar, lamp and wall boxes, and a metal insert plate showing the Crown of Scotland also appears on model K6 red telephone boxes in Scotland.

From 1927 until its abolition in 1975, the arms of Kincardineshire County Council featured the crown, together with the sword and sceptre, above an artist's rendering of Dunnottar Castle, to mark the county's status as the 17th century hiding place of the Honours of Scotland during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms.[6]

The Crown of Scotland also appears on maritime flags, including the Blue Ensign of vessels belonging to Marine Scotland, (Compliance Division), and upon the burgees of certain Royal yacht clubs in Scotland including, for example, that of the Royal Scottish Motor Yacht Club.[7]

From 1968 to 2008, the reverse of the Five pence coin, minted for circulation throughout the United Kingdom, featured the Royal Badge of Scotland; a thistle surmounted by the Crown of Scotland.

The crown, as a component of the Royal Badge of Scotland, (A Thistle Royally Crowned), appeared on a 'Regional' series of definitive, pre-decimal Royal Mail stamps, during the period 1958 to 1970.

In 2003 a new crown was made for the Lord Lyon, modelled on the Crown of Scotland.[8] This crown has removable arches (like one of the late Queen Mother's crowns) which will be removed at coronations to avoid any hint of lèse majesté.[9]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ The Honours of Scotland, Official website of the British Royal Family.
  2. ^ James Balfour Paul, Accounts of the Treasurer, vol. 7 (Edinburgh, 1907), p. 278.
  3. ^ James Balfour Paul, Accounts of the Treasurer, vol. 7 (Edinburgh, 1907), p. 285.
  4. ^ The Scottish Parliament Parliamentary News Release Archived 21 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ The Scottish Parliament Media Briefing Note Archived 19 May 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ The Coat of Arms of Kincardineshire
  7. ^ The Royal Scottish Motor Yacht Club
  8. ^ "Lord Lyon gets his crown back". The Scotsman. 13 July 2003. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
  9. ^ "Offers of Arms: Kings, Heralds and Pursuivants".
  10. ^ "Queen Elizabeth II and Scotland". National Records of Scotland. NRS. 31 May 2013. Retrieved 24 July 2019.

External linksEdit