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King Charles III wears iconic St. Edward's Crown for first, last time

St. Edward's Crown is only used to crown new monarchs — but it's not the only crown being worn today.

LONDON, UK — King Charles III was crowned Saturday morning, putting a priceless, centuries-old crown — and two newer ones — back in the spotlight.

St. Edward's Crown was last worn by Queen Elizabeth in 1953 for her own coronation. Considered the centerpiece of the United Kingdom's Crown Jewels, it is only used to crown new monarchs — so Saturday was Charles' first and last time wearing it.

The solid gold creation weighs nearly five pounds and is dripping with hundreds of rubies, amethysts, sapphires, garnet, topazes and tourmalines. To protect royal heads from all that weight, it's padded with an ermine band and a purple velvet cap. 

Credit: Andrew Matthews/Pool via AP
King Charles III wearing the St Edward's Crown during the coronation ceremony at Westminster Abbey, in London, Saturday May 6, 2023.

Besides its once-a-generation moment in the limelight, the crown usually sits in the Tower of London, where millions of people view it each year. It was moved to an undisclosed location months ago to be modified for Charles' coronation — a relocation that British authorities kept secret until after the fact for security reasons.

Credit: AP Photo/Frank Augstein
A woman looks at the St. Edward's Crown and Orb, part of an exhibition at the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Galleries in Westminster Abbey. May 29, 2018.

The current crown was made for Charles II in 1661, replacing a medieval crown that was melted down in 1649 after the House of Commons abolished the monarchy and declared a commonwealth during the English Civil War. The original was thought to date back to Edward the Confessor, who reigned in 1042-1066. 

After the ceremony, Charles switched to the lighter Imperial State Crown, made for the coronation of his grandfather King George VI in 1937. The crown is encrusted with more than 2,800 diamonds and other precious stones, including several with long histories of their own.

Credit: Phil Noble/Pool Photo via AP
Britain's King Charles III wears the Imperial State Crown and holds the Sovereign's Sceptre as he leaves after his coronation ceremony, May 6, 2023.

Charles' wife Camilla, the queen consort, was crowned with Queen Mary's Crown. Designed for the 1911 coronation of King George V and his wife, Mary, its silver and gold frame is set with 2,200 diamonds. 

Credit: AP
Queen Camilla is crowned with Queen Mary's Crown in Westminster Abbey, London, Saturday, May 6, 2023.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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