Crowns are mainly symbols of royalty. They’re worn to symbolize the absolute authority of the wearer. But crown symbolism runs deeper, too. They’ve historically represented everything from victory in battle to the divine immortality of the wearer.
Crowns mainly symbolize:
- Victory and Glory
Below I’ll explain all these symbols of crowns and where they come from.
Crown Symbolism – What do they Represent?
Crowns have always been a sign of royalty. They are symbols to people that the wearer is the alpha of the community. They’re the undisputed ruler over a territory.
And this is nothing new.
The oldest known crown in the world is from the copper age, around 4500 – 6500 BCE. Crowns were also worn by Roman Emperors, Pharaohs, Native American tribes, and Mayan and Incan tribes.
In other words, they’ve been symbols of royalty around the world from the earliest days.
Read Also: Why is Purple the Color of Royalty?
When a new king or queen emerges, they’re given legitimacy by having the crown ceremoniously placed on their heads.
The first time the new king or queen wears their hat is at their coronation.
The coronation usually involves a respected person such as a leader of the Church placing the crown on the head of the new king or queen. There may be an oath that the new king or queen has to take as well.
Nowadays, there are few coronations that still occur, although the most famous one (by the British Monarch) has continued for many centuries.
Underpinning all of the pageantry and spectacle of the crown is one simple symbol: power. In fact, I’d say that all of the other symbols listed in this article can all come down to this one key point. The crown symbolizes power.
The wearer of the crown has historically had the power to control everyone else. Several hundred years ago, the king and queen had ultimate power. They were the dictators. They could do whatever they want, order the arrest of whoever they want, and declare war whenever they want.
Now, crowns tend not to hold quite so much power. In the world today, we generally don’t accept that one person can have so much power. The western world usually confers legitimacy on people through democratic elections. If you haven’t been elected, you don’t have power.
But back in the day, you didn’t need an electoral tally. So long as you were the person with the crown on your head, you were the person who had the power to bark commands.
4. Victory and Glory
In the middle ages there were many battles for control over Europe. If someone invades a country and wins, they demonstrate their control over the new lands by having the loser’s crown placed on their head.
The new coronation over the new land is the sign of the end of the war, a new leader, and the ultimate power of the winner over the enemy.
In other word, it’s the sign of victory.
Furthermore, the placement of the enemy’s crown on your own head is a glory symbol: to the victor go the spoils.
Often, kings and queens would pair up with the Pope or other high priests to provide them with legitimacy. Without religious authority, royalty would often lack the consent of the people that they needed.
So, many kings and queens would position themselves as anointed by god:
- Some believed their reign was their divine right.
- Other Catholic Kings would be coronated by the Pope.
- The King and Queen of England are also the leaders of the Anglican Church.
Crowns are often adorned with the most precious and rare gems that could be found. This is to symbolize the wealth of the monarch. They are demonstrating through the crown that they have control over all the resources of the land and have the most money. Therefore, they should be respected.
In fact, the British crown – called the Imperial State Crown – has over 3,000 different gemstones in it. These include:
- 2,868 diamonds.
- 273 pearls.
- 17 sapphires.
- 11 emeralds.
- 5 rubies.
It also contains some very famous gems, such as:
- St Edward’s Sapphire (taken from Edward the Confessor’s hand when he was exhumed in 1163).
- The 170-carat Black Prince’s Ruby.
- The 104-carat Stuart Sapphire.
- The 317-carat Cullinan II.
7. Dynasty and History
The above-named famous gems in the crown are also symbolic of the dynasty of the British royals. The fact they have jewels that are up to a millennium old is a symbol of the monarch’s ability to amass an amazing history as the legitimate rulers of Britain.
They are the legitimate heirs of a centuries-old dynasty, and they proudly display this through the items embedded in their crowns.
But furthermore, simply wearing the crown is a sign of the dynasty of the rulers. Putting the crown on your head shows that you are the rightful heir to one of the greatest dynasties on earth.
Crown of Thorns Symbolism
1. False Prophet
The crown of thorns was a crown – made of thorns – placed on Jesus when he was captured by Pontius Pilate. It was a sign that he was a false prophet and should be mocked. He wasn’t seen as the King of the Jews, but rather a weakened criminal.
2. Selfless Sacrifice
But in Christianity, the crown of thorns is seen as a sign of the selfless sacrifice of Jesus.
According to Christians, we humans are sinners. But Jesus wore the crown of thorns, was mocked, and killed, in order to forgive us for our sins.
Crown of Daisies Symbolism
Hippies and other nature-lovers will often weave a crown of daisies (or other flowers) to wear on their heads. They are usually woven from items found in nature, making them cost nothing. Nonetheless, they have clear symbolism.
The crown of daisies can symbolize:
- Connection to Nature – Made out of nature, the crown is a direct contrast to the traditional gold and jewelry crowns that are signs of conquest. Instead, the use of stems is a sign that this crown is not a sign of power and conquest, but a sign of oneness with nature.
- Peacefulness – The crown’s use of flowers and stems harks toward the peacefulness of nature and acts as a symbol that the wearer is a peaceful free-spirit.
- Alternative Lifestyles – Worn by hippies and similar sub-cultural groups, it can be a sign of anti-consumerism and free-love culture.
A tiara is a type of crown often worn by princesses. But, young girls will often wear them now as a fashion symbol. They’re also often worn at debutant balls.
- Royalty – In royalty, the tiara is a crown showing royalty without being seen as the actual king or queen. It’s a submissive crown worn by the heir.
- Fashion – In fashion, the tiara is simply worn as a piece of jewelry by young girls.
- Debutant Balls – In debutant balls, tiaras are worn as eye-catching pieces that show who the girl is who is the ‘center of attention’.
Being worn by young girls (both as fashion and royalty), the tiara could also be seen as a sign of virginity and innocence. They can be worn by eligible bachelorettes in social situations to draw attention and make the single girl look beautiful so she can find a suitable man to marry.
Crown symbolism has a long history. A crown symbolizes royalty, wealth, authority and power. Sometimes they’re also connected to divinity and a person’s divine right to be a ruler of a nation.
While crowns are less and less common in the real world (as monarchies have collapsed and democracy has taken over), they are still symbols often used in literature, television and film. Through fiction, the crown lives on as a symbol – particularly within fantasy worldbuilding genres.
I’m a Scorpio, I love the outdoors, and I’ve written articles in some major online publications like Medium and The Weekly. My favorite metaphor? Anything that’s got to do with baseball. I’m fascinated by the fact our language has baseball weaved all through it. Read more about me here.