Her Majesty’s Diamond Milestone

Today at 17h30, Queen Elizabeth becomes the longest reigning monarch ever to sit on the British throne.

Having reigned for over 63 years, the Queen overtakes the long reign of her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria, who came to the throne at the age of 18.

To mark the day’s events the Queen and Prince Philip travelled from Edinburgh to Tweedbank, on the Union of South Africa locomotive, a reminder of the long history South Africa has with the British monarchy in rail, road and precious gems.

The largest diamonds in the Crown Jewel collection were found in the Transvaal, South Africa in 1905. The Cullinan Diamond, named after the mine’s chairman Thomas Cullinan was sent to England in an ordinary wrapped parcel, while a decoy was sent on a heavily guarded ship.

The huge raw diamond stone was presented to King Edward VII for his 66th birthday and was then cut into nine major stones and 96 small brilliants.

The two largest diamonds were incorporated into the Crown Jewels. The Star of Africa diamond is at the head of the Sovereign’s Scepter and the Second Star of Africa diamond is in the front band of the Imperial State Crown, worn by the Queen at her coronation and other important events.

Scroll through our images to see more of South Africa’s smaller, but no less magnificent stones.

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