British crown jewels buried in biscuit tin during WW II

Queen Elizabeth II wearing the bejeweled Imperial crown leaves Westminster Abbey, London, on June 2, 1953. (AP)
Updated 13 January 2018
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British crown jewels buried in biscuit tin during WW II

LONDON: Precious stones from Britain’s crown jewels were hidden in a biscuit tin and buried at Windsor Castle during World War II, a BBC documentary to be shown on Sunday reveals.
Gems, including the Black Prince’s Ruby from the Imperial State Crown, were buried under a secret exit from the medieval castle used in times of emergency.
The operation, intended to ensure the priceless gems did not fall into Nazi hands, was ordered by Queen Elizabeth II’s father, King George VI. It was such a closely guarded secret that Queen Elizabeth, 91, who spent the 1939-1945 war at Windsor Castle for safety, did not know the details.
“What was so lovely was that the Queen had no knowledge of it. Telling her seemed strangely odd,” said royal commentator Alastair Bruce, who presents the documentary.
The details were unearthed by Oliver Urquhart Irvine, the assistant keeper of the Royal Archives.
Bruce told The Times newspaper that an “electric set of letters” from Owen Morshead, the royal librarian, to Queen Mary, King George VI’s mother, shed light on the mystery.
Morshead’s documents describe how a hole was dug in chalk earth and two chambers with steel doors were created.
The trap door, used to access the secret area where the tin box was kept, is still there.
Bruce discusses the crown jewels with Queen Elizabeth in an exceptionally rare conversation recorded for television. The monarch has never given an interview.
She described the Imperial State Crown, worn for the state opening of Parliament and weighing 1.28 kg, as “very unwieldy.”
“Fortunately, my father and I have about the same sort of shaped head. But once you put it on, it stays. I mean, it just remains itself.”
The sovereign said she had to keep her head still. “And you can’t look down to read the speech — you have to take the speech up. Because if you did, your neck would break, or it would fall off.
“So there are some disadvantages to crowns, but otherwise they’re quite important things.”
The crown, made for King George’s coronation in 1937, is set with 2,868 diamonds including 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds and hundreds of pearls, including four known as Queen Elizabeth I’s earrings.
It also features the Black Prince’s Ruby, believed to have been worn by King Henry V in his helmet at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415.
“It’s fun to see,” Queen Elizabeth said. “The idea that his plume was put into the stone ... on his helmet. Bit rash, but that was the sort of thing they did, I suppose, in those days.”


Prince Harry and Meghan arrive in hot Fiji for 3-day visit

Updated 23 October 2018
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Prince Harry and Meghan arrive in hot Fiji for 3-day visit

  • The couple was scheduled to attend a reception and state dinner with Fijian President Jioji Konrote
  • They will finish their tour with a four-day visit to New Zealand

SUVA, Fiji: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were greeted by hundreds of flag-waving well-wishers on Tuesday after arriving in Fiji for a three-day visit as part of their tour of the South Pacific.
School children in uniform and people of all ages lined the streets and waved both British Union Jack and Fijian flags as Prince Harry and Meghan’s motorcade drove past.
The couple arrived from Australia, where Meghan, who is four months pregnant, had her schedule reduced in recent days after a hectic start to their 16-day trip across four countries. Meghan has not announced any plans to reduce her schedule in Fiji.
After stepping off the plane, Meghan needed to hold her cream-colored hat to prevent it from being blown away as Harry inspected a guard of honor. There was a light drizzle and an official held an umbrella above Meghan’s head.
The couple was scheduled to attend an official welcome ceremony at Suva’s Albert Park that will mirror one attended by Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh in 1953. It was to involve traditional elements of Fijian culture, including dances and a kava ceremony. Members of the public are invited and 15,000 are expected to attend.
The couple was scheduled to attend a reception and state dinner Tuesday evening hosted by Fijian President Jioji Konrote.
Home to just over 900,000 people, Fiji is a former British colony that became independent in 1970 and later became a republic. Fiji remains a part of the Commonwealth group of countries and is a popular destination for tourists thanks to its warm climate and beaches.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that pregnant women not travel to a number of countries including Fiji and Tonga because of the presence of the mosquito-borne Zika virus, which can cause severe birth defects.
There is no vaccine for Zika, and the CDC says the best way to avoid infection for those who must travel is to take extra precautions to prevent mosquito bites.
The couple is scheduled to visit Tonga on Thursday before returning to Sydney on Friday night for the final days of the Invictus Games, Harry’s brainchild and the focus of their tour. The couple will then finish their tour with a four-day visit to New Zealand.