Judging by how much the British royal family is actually worth, it’s safe to say their Crown Jewels cost a pretty penny. So it’s no surprise that these world-famous Brits will do practically anything to keep those precious gems safe—even if it takes hiding them in a cookie tin.
That may sound strange by today’s standards, but back during World War II, many worried the jewels would fall into the wrong hands. That’s why the royal family decided to stash its Crown Jewels in a metal cookie tin underneath Windsor Castle, a BBC documentary recently revealed.
According to a set of letters between former royal librarian Sir Owen Morshead and Queen Mary, King George VI asked for the gems to be hidden in case of a Nazi invasion. (Check out the entire royal family tree, explained in one easy chart.)
Under King George’s orders, stones from the Imperial State Crown and the Black Prince’s Ruby were placed in the metal tin and buried in two steel-doored chambers underneath Windsor Castle, experts say. And here’s the coolest part: The trapdoor used to access the secret space still exists today.
Up until now, many have speculated that the gems had been hidden in a cave in Wales, in a Canadian vault, or in a secret tunnel during the war, The Times reported. Even Queen Elizabeth II, who spent those years in Windsor Castle, had no clue where the Crown Jewels were buried. Royal expert Alastair Bruce first revealed the findings to her while filming the BBC documentary, The Coronation.
That’s not the only thing you didn’t know about the British monarch. Learn more fascinating facts (and a few scandals!) about Queen Elizabeth II.