Queen opens up about dangers of robe friction and heavy crowns in TV documentary

The amusing trials and tribulations of being head of state are revealed by the Queen in a BBC documentary - from the perils of wearing a heavy crown, to robes sticking to a thick carpet pile.

The Queen speaks candidly and with humour about the experience of her own coronation and the symbolic importance of artefacts associated with the sovereign in the one-hour programme due to be screened this Sunday.

The Queen rides in the Gold State Coach after her coronation (BBC/PA)
The Queen rides in the Gold State Coach after her coronation (BBC/PA)

She jokingly states you cannot look down when wearing the Imperial State Crown, which weighs 2lbs 13oz (1.28kgs), as your neck would "break".

She also recounts how she was brought to a standstill when her robes ran against the carpet pile in Westminster Abbey during her coronation.

Called The Coronation, the documentary features the monarch in conversation with royal commentator Alastair Bruce and tells the story of the crown jewels and the ceremony around crowning a new monarch.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh wave from the balcony to the onlooking crowds around the gates of Buckingham Palace after the coronation (PA)
The Queen, wearing the Imperial State Crown, and the Duke of Edinburgh wave from the balcony to the onlooking crowds around the gates of Buckingham Palace after the coronation (PA)

With the Imperial State Crown in front of them, worn by the Queen when delivering her speech during the state opening of parliament, the monarch points out it has been reduced in height since her father King George VI wore it.

Looking at the priceless artefact, the Queen said: "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 on."

Mr Bruce said the head has to be kept still when wearing it and the Queen agreed: "Yes. 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, it would fall off.

"So there are some disadvantages to crowns, but otherwise they're quite important things."

Today marks the 64th Anniversary of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey. pic.twitter.com/50za6jwdTq

-- The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) June 2, 2017

The crown was made for George VI's coronation in 1937 and 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 a gemstone known as the Black Prince's Ruby, believed to have been worn by Henry V in his helmet, at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415.

The Queen joked that Elizabeth's pearls were "not very happy now" and had been "hanging out for years" and shook the crown so they moved.

The Queen with her Maids of Honour and the Archbishop of Canterbury during the coronation (BBC/PA)
The Queen with her Maids of Honour and the Archbishop of Canterbury during the coronation (BBC/PA)

She added: "I mean, the trouble is that pearls are sort of live things and they need, and they need warming."

The Queen acceded to the throne on February 6 1952 when her father died unexpectedly in his sleep at Sandringham in Norfolk.

Despite the country being in the grip of post-war austerity, a glittering coronation was staged on June 2 the following year at Westminster Abbey.

The documentary features footage of the Queen processing through the Abbey and highlights how her coronation dress was embroidered in silk with pearls, and gold and silver bullion thread.

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