Following the passing of the British monarch there’s been a renewed push for the legendary Koh-i-Noor diamond to be returned to its country of origin, India.
On 8 September, Queen Elizabeth II passed away at the age of 96 after holding a 70-year reign, the longest of any British monarch in history.
According to reporting by the Daily Mail shortly before her death the Queen indicated that at the coronation of Charles III the Queen Mother’s Crown should be worn by Queen Consort Camilla Parker Bowles.
The Queen Mother’s Crown is decorated with more than 2,800 diamonds, the most significant of all being the 105-carat Koh-i-Noor, positioned in the middle of the front cross.
For many experts, the Type IIa D-Colour Koh-i-Noor is the world’s most valuable diamond.
The diamond was discovered at the Kollur Mine in India in the 14th century. The rough was believed to be in excess of 800 carats. Following the cutting and polishing, the diamond and passed hands between various regional powers in Asia leading up to the British annexation of Punjab in 1849.
The diamond was ceded to Queen Victoria during the colonisation of India and the British royal family has maintained its possession for the past 170 years.
Following India’s establishment of independence in 1947, the government has consistently requested its return. The governments of Pakistan, Afghanisatan, and Iran have each also declared rightful ownership of the diamond.
British-Indian author and political commentator Saurav Dutt told TIME that the return of the Koh-i-Noor would be momentous for India.
“A recognition of the fact that it was obtained through stealth and deception would be a significant step at this stage, that lays the groundwork for the next generation to be able to give it back,” he said.
Thousands of tweets from social media users in India would suggest that Dutt is not alone in his wish, however, he also concedes that the chances of it occurring are slim.
Indian author Shashi Tharoor is another prominent voice calling for the restitution of the diamond.
In his book An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India he wrote that “the diamond was formally handed over to Queen Victoria by the child Sikh heir Maharaja Duleep Singh, who simply had no choice in the matter.
“As I have pointed out in the Indian political debate on the issue, if you hold a gun to my head, I might ‘gift’ you my wallet — but that doesn’t mean I don’t want it back when your gun has been put away.”
The UK minister for Asia and the Pacific addressed the topic in Parliament in 2016 and stated that the UK government’s position is that there is “no legal grounds” for the restitution of the diamond.
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