The Queen may enjoy the great privilege of wearing a crown, but the extravagant headpiece doesn't come without its downside. In the upcoming BBC documentary The Coronation (Jan. 14, BBC One), Her Majesty, 91, gave a rare insight into her life as head of state.
The Queen showed her sense of humour as she joked that looking down while wearing the Imperial State Crown – which weighs a staggering 2.8 lb. – could be fatal. Chatting with BBC royal commentator Alastair Bruce, she explained: "You can't look down to read the speech, you have to take the speech up. Because if you did [look down] your neck would break, it would fall off. So there are some disadvantages to crowns, but otherwise they're quite important things."
The documentary, which centres around the Queen's coronation in 1953 (June 2 will mark the 65th anniversary, takes a detailed look at the Imperial State Crown, made for George VI's coronation in 1937.
"Fortunately, my father and I have about the same sort of shaped head," Her Majesty observed. "But once you put it on, it stays. I mean, it just remains on.'"
The crown is set with 2,868 diamonds including 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds and 269 pearls, including four large pear-shaped pearls thought to have belonged to Elizabeth I.
The British monarch joked that her ancestor's pearls are "not very happy now'' and have been "hanging out for years,'' adding: "The trouble is that pearls are sort of live things, and they need warming.''
The Queen also recounted the day of her coronation, and how she was brought to a halt when her robes ran against the carpet pile in Westminster Abbey. "I remember one moment when I was going against the pile of the carpet and I couldn't move at all!"