The Holy Crown of Hungary, also known as the Crown of Saint Stephen, was the coronation crown used by the Kingdom of Hungary for most of its existence; kings have been crowned with it since the twelfth century. But it left the country for three decades: the historic relic returned on the 6th of January, 1978, from the United States.
When Stephen became the King of Hungary on Christmas Day in the year 1000, Pope Sylvester II presented him a crown as a gift. Stephen had resolved to raise Hungary to the status of a Christian kingdom, placing it on an equal footing with other European states. He shrewdly requested his crown from the Pope, the spiritual leader of Western Europe, rather than from the Holy Roman Emperor. This crown became one of the most powerful symbols of Hungarian nationhood.
During World War II, the crown and the regalia were buried by the guards in the Buda Castle in October 1944. After Ferenc Szálasi came into power he unburied it and swore to the crown. Then it was taken to Veszprém, Kőszeg, Velem and lastly Austria on the 27th of March, 1945, to save it from the Soviet troops.
At the end of World War II the crown jewels were recovered in Mattsee, Austria, on 4 May 1945 by the U.S. 86th Infantry Division. The crown jewels were transported to Western Europe and eventually given to the United States Army by the Hungarian Crown Guard for safekeeping from the Soviet Union. For much of the Cold War the crown was held at the United States Bullion Depository (Fort Knox, Kentucky) alongside the bulk of America’s gold reserves and other priceless historical items. After undergoing extensive historical research to verify the crown as genuine, it was returned to the people of Hungary by the order of U.S. President Jimmy Carter on 6 January 1978.
The decision by President Jimmy Carter to return the Crown in 1978 was controversial and became the question of dispute. But Carter felt that it was only right that the Crown to be returned before a whole generation of Hungarians came of age without understanding its symbolism. After all, he said, the Crown belonged to the Hungarian people.
Finally, the crown was returned to the people of Hungary (not the regime) by Cyrus Vance, Minister of Foreign Affairs as the representative of the people of the USA. Their condition was that the crown-jewels had to be exhibited. They were exhibited in the National Museum, and on the 1st of January, 2000 ceremonially transferred to the Parliament. The crown, with the sceptre and the orb can be seen in the Parliament, the robe was left in the National Museum.
Copy editor: bm
Source: Daily News Hungary