The larger Orb was made for King Charles II (1661) and is delivered only to a ruling monarch.  The smaller Orb was made for Queen Mary II (1689) as joint sovereign with her husband, King William III, and has since been used as the Orb of the Queen Consort.

The Orb is a symbol of great antiquity.  The round globe of the Orb originated with Greek philosophers of the sixth century BC (BCE) who used a crystal globe as the prototype of the universe, which they conceived to be a sphere with the earth as the central core.  Much later this cosmic sphere was adopted by the Romans as the emblem of their world domination, with the Emperor as the Lord of the World.  Emperor Constantine, on his conversion, placed a cross above the globe as the symbol of Christ’s dominion over the earth; the Orb retains this form.