The golden coronet made by the famous goldsmith Louis Osman, which Prince Charles (71), 19 years old at the time, received in 1969 from his mother Queen Elizabeth II (93), has an amazing secret behind it. This makes the coronet, which Charles received upon receiving the title Prince of Wales, quite unique among the British crown jewels.
Prince Charles needed a new coronet
Since the old coronet of Frederick, Prince of Wales, was too fragile, and King Edward VIII had taken the crown of his father George from 1902 with him into exile, a new one was needed for the occasion.
The goldsmith Louis Osman was commissioned to design a new, modern coronet. In March 1969 he called David Mason, who was working on a new technique. The crown was to be made of electroplated gold, which was not so easy at the time.
In May, the crown was finished, but when the crown was tested and stamped at the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, it turned out that the gold was so soft that the whole coronet practically crumbled. They had to start over. When it was finally finished, there was only one technical problem left: the orb that would sit at the top of the coronet.
Investiture of Prince Charles: His coronet is quite special
Just days before the investiture, Mason found a solution. He used a ping pong ball covered with gold! According to the Daily Mail, not even Prince Charles knew about it. In 2019, Mason told the true story of the so-called "Imposter Coronet" for the first time.
"I pondered on how the hell to do this, as no-one had ever managed to make a three dimensional, electroformed object before," he told the Daily Mail.
He then was watching a table tennis match on television "when I suddenly came to me - a ping pong ball. We’ll electroform a ping pong ball." And: "Incredibly the process worked, but as there was no way of removing the ball we just had to leave it inside. No-one, of course, wanted to be the one to tell Prince Charles that he was being invested with a ping pong ball on his head."
What an anecdote, and Prince Charles apparently still does not know that the orb in his coronet is actually a ping pong ball...