The Steel Crown of Romanian Kings

Modern History
casting, hammering
diameter: 20 cm; small diameter: 17 cm; height: 19 cm; weight:1126,48 gr


    Texts: Dr. Florin GEORGESCU; Photo: Marius AMARIE, fototeca MNIR

    The steel crown as symbol of Romanian Independence and Unity

    From the beginning the crown has been the main symbol of the Romanian rulers. Nearly always, the Moldavian and Wallachian rulers were represented, in the church founder’s portraits, as wearing a golden crown above their heads. The same representations can be found on coins and tombstones.  The usual crown of these rulers is the open princely one, with three or two fleuron; the closed crowns could seldom be seen, these being used in more recent times. In the 14th and 15th century, our rulers’ crowns were small, same as the princely heraldic crowns; in the fallowing centuries becoming higher and heavily adorned with leaves and arabesques sculpted or pierced. Sometimes crowns seemed to be composed of flat plates of gold, stuck together and ornamented with engraved leaves and flowers. In Phanariot ages, the rulers were represented less often with a crown above their heads, at the investiture ceremony wearing the Janissary headgear or a fez (a special hat, of Ottoman origin, ișlic). The steel crown of the Romanian kings, symbol of independence and reunification, had its beginnings in 1881. That year, the Ministry of Culture and Public Education established a committee which gathered, alongside Theodor Aman, historians such as: Bogdan Petriceicu Hasdeu, Alexandru Odobescu and Grigore Tocilescu. Their main task was to determine the characteristics of the monarchic symbols, including those of the crown. Later, Theodor Aman was asked to draw the crown and the sceptre of the first king of Romania; the ink sketch, that depicts regalia, it’s a part of the “Theodor Aman” Museum’s heritage, from Bucharest. The steel crown was first used by Carol the First at his coronation as king and the proclamation of the Romanian Kingdom at 10/22 of May 1881. The first king of Romania expressed the wish that his crown to be made of the steel coming from a cannon captured by the Romanian Army in the confrontation with the Turks’ troops, at Plevna, in 1877. It was manufactured at the Army’s Arsenal. The gun was a very modern one for that time, being a German make, manufactured by Krupp.  It should be recalled that, at the coronation ceremony that took place in 1881, the steel crown had rather a symbolic role: it was blessed at the Metropolitan church, on 9/21 of May, but the king didn’t wear it. Furthermore, the coronation ceremony itself can be considered atypical:  it was not held in the Metropolitan church, but in a place specially designed outside; the Metropolitan-Primate and the Moldavian one gave theirs solemn bless, but the sovereign didn’t wish , for religious reasons (he was an earnest catholic), to be crowned and anointed by a high rank orthodox priest. At the same time, his gesture had another substrate, Carol the First wanted to point out that he became king by his own means. Subsequently the steel crown and that of Queen Elizabeth were brought, by the presidents of the legislative bodies, to the Throne Room. In his speech, the king said: “With pride I receive this crown made of a cannon’s steal bathed in the blood of our heroes and blessed by the church. I take it as a symbol of Romania’s strength and independence.” It should be noted that the first king of Romania wound not appear with the steel crown on his head, neither in photos, postcards nor in other works of art. A significant aspect, about the crown that we mentioned in the lines above, is that, from the first day of the Romania’s Kingdom Proclamation until the abdication of King Mihai I, on December 30, 1947, it was represented on the national emblem of our country. 

    The royal crown, following the standards of heraldic, comprises a steel front circle, decorated with oblong, rhombic stones, and pearls made of steel. At the top of the circle were applied eight large ornaments, carved in the shape of a leaf (fleuron), alternated by eight smaller figures with pearls on top. Eight narrow blades go from the top of the fleuron through the middle of the crown, arched and adorned with pearls, which are joined in a globe where is mounted the “Passing of the Danube” cross. All parts of the crown are made of steel, even the pearls, only the inner liner is made of purple velvet.