PREPARE to be dazzled as Britain’s most famous bling heads to Sunderland to mark the Queen’s Jubilee.
Bosses at The Bridges are giving Wearsiders an extra reason to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee in June, after securing the exclusive rights to exhibit the replica Crown Jewels.
Imitating the monarchy’s most prized possessions, the collection of 25 lavish pieces is expected to attract crowds to the shopping centre.
The glittering jewels will be on display for free in the centre’s Central Square between June 1 and 6.
The collection includes replicas of the Imperial State Crown, the Queen Mother’s Crown, the Sword of State and Queen Victoria’s coronation ring, and the recent addition of the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding jewellery, including the engagement ring.
Centre director Andy Bradley said: “We’re extremely excited to not only bring the replica Crown Jewels to the city for the first time, but also to display them during what is set to be such a momentous and patriotic week for British people.
“The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee is a once-in-a-lifetime celebration, and we wanted to make it an extra special one for the people of Sunderland and provide them with something that they perhaps wouldn’t normally get the opportunity to see.
“It’s important that during occasions as patriotic as these, cities outside the capital play a key role in honouring and celebrating our country’s finest moments.
“We hope to do just that by showcasing the monarchy’s most prized possessions during a time in which they will probably mean the most to the people.”
It is the first time the collection, estimated to be worth tens of thousands of pounds, has stopped off in Sunderland – which is the only city to be exhibiting them during the Jubilee tour.
The jewels are the greatest working collection in the world and, from their base at the Tower of London, attract millions of tourists every year.
The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, taking place over the first weekend of June, marks the Queen’s 60 years on the throne.
What’s on display?
•Imperial State Crown: The most famous of the crowns was remade for the coronation of the Queen’s father, King George VI, in 1937 and is set with more than 3,000 gems.
The Sovereign traditionally wears the Imperial State Crown at the conclusion of the coronation service, when leaving Westminster Abbey. It is also worn for the State Opening of Parliament.
•St Edward’s Crown: This is the principal piece of the Regalia, which is used to crown the sovereign by the Archbishop of Canterbury during the coronation ceremony. It is made of gold and decorated with precious and semi-precious stones, including sapphires, tourmalines, amethysts, topazes and citrines.
•The Anointing Spoon: The oldest piece of the Regalia is the 12th century gold Anointing Spoon, used to anoint the Sovereign with holy oil. It survived the destruction of the pre-Civil War Regalia, ordered by Oliver Cromwell following the execution of King Charles I in 1649.
•Imperial Crown of India: Set with about 6,000 diamonds and rubies and emeralds, the crown was made for King George V to wear at the Delhi Coronation Durbar in 1911. It has never been worn since.
•The Ampulla: This is a gold flask in the form of an eagle which contains the holy oil used for the anointing during the coronation. It dates from 1661.
•The Royal Orb: It was used during the coronation and represents Christ’s dominion over the world. It dates back to 1661.
•The Royal Spurs: The Spurs, which are not worn during the coronation, represent knightly chivalry.
•Queen Victoria’s small crown: The crown was made for Queen Victoria in 1870 as a light and comfortable alternative to the much heavier Imperial State Crown.