Queen Elizabeth finds out where British Crown Jewels were hidden during WWII

By @chelean on
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip
Britain's Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip proceed through the Royal Gallery as they leave after the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords, at the Palace of Westminster in London, Britain May 18, 2016. Reuters/Toby Melville

The British Crown Jewels were hidden inside a biscuit tin during World War II. Queen Elizabeth II was only recently told that the priceless gemstones were hidden to prevent the Nazis from stealing them.

The gemstones, which included the Black Prince’s Ruby from the Imperial State Crown, were placed in a biscuit tin and buried in a deep hole under the Windsor Castle, the Times reports. King George VI, the father of the Queen, was said to have given the orders. It was such a well-guarded secret that even the Queen herself has only just found out.

Her Majesty apparently discovered what happened to the crown jewel during the filming of a BBC One documentary. “What was so lovely was that the Queen had no knowledge of it. Telling her seemed strangely odd,” royal commentator Alastair Bruce told the publication.

Librarian Oliver Urquhart, an assistant keeper of the Queen’s Archives, has learnt of the story from the letters sent to the King’s mother, Queen Mary. In the letter, royal librarian Sir Owen Morshead described how the gemstones were hidden in case the Nazis invaded the country.

According to the letter, the crown jewels were buried under a small emergency exit from the castle. Two chambers with steel doors were built to keep them safe. The trap door that led to the secret area still exists today.

It was long speculated that the jewels were taken from the Tower of London to Windsor during the war to keep it safe. It was also rumoured that they were kept in a vault in Canada, hidden in a cave in Wales, and taken to a secret tunnel at a Devon prison.

Queen Elizabeth, 91, stayed at the Windsor Castle during the war from 1939 to 1945. The Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom are 140 royal ceremonial objects that are currently displayed in the Tower of London.

The documentary “The Coronation” will see Her Majesty giving a rare interview to the BBC. She will talk about her memories at her coronation in 1953 among others. It will air on BBC One in the UK on Sunday.