The British Royal Family planned to keep the Crown Jewels away from the Nazis during World War II by hiding them in a cookie tin.
Most people in the United Kingdom are certainly aware of the Crown Jewels’ history, but few are aware of their humble storage during the darkest days of World War II. At the time, King George the VI, father to Queen Elizabeth II and then ruling monarch, ordered the gems from the Imperial State Crown removed to be kept safe should Germany invade or should Nazi spies infiltrate Castle Windsor.
From there it was a state secret where the gems were stored. Some said that they were kept in a cave in Wales, while others were told that they were shipped to Canada to be kept secure in a vault. Few would have guessed they were right under their noses all along.
Speaking to the Times of London, Alistair Bruce, a Crown Jewels expert, revealed the shocking truth he discovered while reading old letters sent from royal librarian Sir Owen Morsehead to Queen Mary, King George VI’s mother.
According to the letter, a deep cavern was dug under an entrance to Windsor Castle, complete with two steel doors leading to each. The chambers were accessible via a trap door in the castle that still exists today. The two largest gems, St. Edward’s Sapphire and the Black Prince's Ruby, were then placed in a cookie tin and buried in the chamber, while the rest were buried in the other.
“He just gorged them out, recognizing there would be plenty of chances to put them back in again, wrapped them up and put them in the Bath Oliver tin so should anything happen – just as when Oliver Cromwell ordered the Crown Jewels to be smashed up – they could ferry these away and could rebuild it in due course,” Bruce told The Times.
Not even Queen Elizabeth II knew the truth. Bruce actually broke the news to the Queen during an interview for an upcoming BBC documentary on her coronation.
“What was so lovely was that the Queen had no knowledge of it,” Bruce said. “Telling her seemed strangely odd.”