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The Irish Crown Jewels

Garda Museum in Dublin Castle
At the Garda Museum in Dublin Castle visitors can see the safe that once housed the Irish crown jewels, but not the jewels themselves, which were stolen long ago. PETER MUHLY/AFP/Getty Images

This yarn has it all: Political tension, murder and a rumored sex scandal. Let's begin at the beginning, shall we? In 1760, George III became the king of both Ireland and Great Britain. Twenty-three years into his reign, he established an order of knighthood for his Irish subjects.

Such groups need props for their initiation ceremonies. In 1831, King William IV had a grandmaster pendant and an oval badge created on the order's behalf. These were made from precious objects from Queen Charlotte's old jewelry collection. The pendant contained 400 of her old diamonds arranged in an eight-pointed star along with a ruby cross and an emerald shamrock set on enamel. The badge featured all of those precious materials, as well as some 24-karat gold.

Both items were left in the care of Sir Arthur Vicars, who kept them under lock and key at Dublin Castle. On July 6,1907, it was discovered that they'd been stolen. And to make matters worse, King Edward VII was scheduled to visit Dublin four days later.

The disappearance of the jewels cost Vicars his position. Death claimed him in 1921, when he was assassinated in his wife's presence by members of the Irish Republican Army. Did he have a hand in stealing the crown jewels? Maybe, maybe not. Some believe that the mastermind of this crime was Francis Shackleton, who'd been an assistant of Vicars' at Dublin Castle. There's a rumor that Shackleton also was having an affair with Edward VII's brother-in-law.