One of my regular stop off points during a London tour is the Tower of London. By default a visit to the Jewel House and therein after circumnavigating a warren of dark corridors lit by images tantalising you with pictures of the jewels you will see and the images that have inspired them. I was with an 8 year old earlier this week and with the Jewel House being uncharacteristically busy for this time of year, I found myself explaining where we were going and the importance of what we were about to see. If you have ever been to a theme park in high season you will be accustomed to long queues. The Crown Jewels being up there with the seven wonders of the world is one of those things you should have on your bucket list. My job is to make the queue disappear. Not by subterfuge or slipping into the building through back doors but by making the wait entertaining. A challenge at the best of times (and one I relish), but making a line entertaining to an 8 year old, well we are in a different league here.
Anyway, one of the highlights of the collection for me is the Cullinan Diamond, set inside the Sovereign’s sceptre with the cross, representing the temporal power of The King or Queen. The Cullinan Diamond was a gift from the people of South Africa and set into the sceptre in 1907 for Edward VII.
Now, one of those lesser known facts that as well as gold diamonds are measured in carats. The Cullinan Diamond is measured at 530 carats and is the largest diamond in the world (yes, my American cousins, it is larger than the Hope Diamond – a mere 450 carats). It’s finding, cutting and transfer from South Africa to Amsterdam is a real boys own mystery full of mystery and intrigue (but I digress).
Right, back to the challenge. My young 8 year old (wise for his years), was full of questions and we both had that lightening moment when I think we both shared the same mental image of what 530 carats represented.
I regularly visit the Tower of London as part of a London Highlights tour but from this day on, I will never again look at the Cullinan Diamond in the same light again…..