Prince Charles crown topped off with secret ping-pong ball hidden inside sphere

The Crown Jewels are priceless – both because of their historical value and because they have never been insured and so no valuer has ever got their hands on them.

But the coronet – a sort of mini-crown – Prince Charles wore for his investiture as Prince of Wales hides a bizarre secret: it’s topped off with a ping pong ball.

The previous Prince of Wales, Her Majesty the Queen’s uncle who briefly reigned as King Edward VIII, took his coronet with him when he abdicated and left the country. So Charles needed a new one.

While the ceremony would have been planned for years in advance, Charles' coronet turned out to be a bit of a rush job.

It needed to be crafted especially for the prince – taking in his thick hair and distinctive ears. Part of the design called for a golden ball, which needed to be hollow so as not to be too heavy.

David R Mason, the former Senior Vice President of Global Precious Metal Corporation, told Channel 5’s Secrets of The Royal Palaces how the coronet’s distinctive golden orb was created.

“I happened to be watching a ping pong game on television and the thought came to me. We got a ping pong ball and we sprayed it with silver so it was conductive. We hung it into the gold plating solution and we actually plated it for three days and brought it out and it was a lovely gold colour.

But of course, there was no way we could remove the ping pong ball from inside without destroying the gold. In fact, the ping pong ball is still there.”

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The world saw Charles wearing the coronet – with its hidden ping-pong ball – when the investiture was televised live in July 1969. But the remarkable object has another secret.

Despite all his hard work on the crown, Mr Mason reveals he was never actually paid for the job.

He said: “We didn’t get paid. With all the gold samples and the gold orbs, it was more than £200,000 worth of gold. We did send our usual chaser notices but we were unsuccessful in getting paid for it.”

The Royal Family had been gifted the coronet but unfortunately for David, the company that gifted it never confirmed how they were going to pay for it.

Secrets of The Royal Palaces continues on Channel 5 at 8.30pm on Saturday.

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