Her Majesty’s 70 years of dedicated service to the people of the United Kingdom, the Realms and the Commonwealth is such a remarkable achievement for a monarch who has so actively led the nation. It is with great pride that Thomas Lyte designed and made a new Processional Cross, to commemorate the Platinum Jubilee.
It was with great excitement that the Royal Warrant Holders Association gifted a new Processional Cross to Her Majesty The Queen to mark the Platinum Jubilee. The masterpiece in silver-gilt was designed and crafted by fellow Royal Warrant Holder, Thomas Lyte, who are goldsmiths and silversmiths to Her Majesty.
In 2019, initial exploration began into how such a historic reign could be recognized. Against the backdrop of a wonderful relationship of many years, the Reverend Canon Paul Wright, the Sub-Dean of the Chapel Royal, approached Thomas Lyte and the Royal Warrant Holders Association with a brief to design and create a processional cross.
The Canon Paul’s brief suggested that the Cross Design should be understated, which has always been the favoured style of the Queen. Second, Paul insisted that the design should seamlessly fit into the interior aesthetic of the chapel at St. James’s Palace, where the piece would spend most of its time. The final request was that the design referred to Her Majesty’s 70 years on the throne, the Platinum Jubilee.
Thomas Lyte’s designers based their initial concepts on Her Majesty the Queen’s coronation bouquet, that contained the four Flowers of the Home Nations. England represented by orchids and lilies of the valley with stephanotis for Scotland. Welsh orchids feature too, while carnations refer to Northern Ireland – with carnations also for the Isle of Man. Multiple designs were provided and reviewed by the committee, with the final design being chosen by Her Majesty The Queen herself.
A processional cross is traditionally carried during all liturgical processions, and plays an active role in most Chapel Royal services throughout the year. Fairly unostentatious in character, the chapel at St. James’s Palace is mainly of oak paneling with gilt detailing, bringing forth ideas for the materials to be used when making the cross. The chapel’s existing silverware are also mainly of silver-gilt, including the Coronation plate and other altar pieces that date back to the Restoration.
The Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Processional Cross was handcrafted from 2.8 kilograms of sterling silver, from a starting weight of four kilograms of silver bullion. The crafting team at the Thomas Lyte silver workshops in London used all of their expertise to create a cross that would be sturdy, balanced and strong, given it would be used for hundreds of years and so the process began with model making and trials.
The project took 340 craft hours, with the craft process involving every aspect of silversmithing methods, many dating back to antiquity. The cross, by design, has many sharp edges. Hard edges present some of the greatest challenges, as polishing with a lathe naturally removes metal and causes edges to be rounded. Over 120 hours of hand polishing was required to get the desired fine polished finish while preserving the cross’ hard edges.
One of the most striking features of the cross, is the Christogram ‘IHS’ device, a monogram and a Latin acronym for Jesus Hominum Salvator – Jesus Savior of Mankind. Notably, the mould for this symbol was created using leading edge technology and the latest techniques in 3D-printing.
A stunning highlight of the Cross design is a circular ring sitting at the center of the crucifix, that is decorated with 70 lozenges representing the years of Her Majesty’s reign. Each diamond lozenge was delicately cast in sterling silver and spaced equally around the ring’s circumference, which required a balance of both engineering and master goldsmithing skills.
Each arm of the cross has been created from seven individual pieces of sterling silver scored and shaped by hand, and ultimately silver-soldered together. Each formed arm has been beautifully highlighted with hand drawn and hand chased flowers of the four nations of Britain. The processional cross, therefore, perfectly reflecting the design of the coronation dress that inspired it.
The term chasing in silversmithing, describes a metalworking technique whereby metal is delicately moved and sculpted using hammers and chisels to create an intricate design. This same technique was also used on the Coronation Plate created in the 1600’s that now sits on the altar at St. James’s Chapel.
The cross is substantially silver gilt; however the flowers have been highlighted in bright silver, inspired by the detailing on the coronation dress, namely Dress No.9 of the Norman Hartnell Coronation Gown. The effect emphasizes the original white colour. The cross is held aloft on an oak staff, this wood heralding from Sandringham estate. A burning technique called pyrography was used to achieve the hand painted floral design that spirals up the wood.
Thomas Lyte’s Master craftsmen and their apprentices were involved in the creation using every aspect of silversmithing from antiquity through to leading edge modern methods to create an ecclesiastical piece which will hopefully remain in the Chapel Royal for centuries to come.
The piece was presented in person to Her Majesty The Queen by the Royal Warrant Holders Association, and Thomas Lyte’s CEO and founder, Kevin Baker, a moment of which our whole company is unimaginably proud.
The Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Processional Cross will be used at religious services and State occasions, including at the Cenotaph, and will replace the current cross in the Chapel Royal, St. James’s Palace, London. It will be used during weekly services there and in other places of worship and on Royal visits around the UK and overseas.
Our team make the conceivable possible, while preserving traditional skills, pioneering modern methods, and promoting authentic British craft across the globe. Combining the latest technologies with centuries of knowledge, Thomas Lyte’s silver workshops in London, England house world-class facilities for an elite team of designers and makers, masters of their craft. Learn about 3D printing, electroforming and other new technologies that our team have introduced to our sustainable handcrafting process.
Materials. Sterling Silver + 24 Carat Gold Plate
Workshop Processes. Spinning, Filing, Hot Forging, 3D Printing, Casting, Hand Chasing, Polishing, Plating, and Engraving
Thomas Lyte together with the Royal Warrant Holders Association unveiled The Platinum Jubilee Processional Cross, a 70th Anniversary gift to Her Majesty The Queen.
Take a glance at these fast facts about this stunning bespoke piece.