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Queen Elizabeth May Face Legal Action Over Koh-i-noor Diamond

A group of Indians have recently announced their intention to take legal action against The Queen in a bid to reclaim the Koh-i-noor Diamond that is presently a part of the Crown Jewels.

The Koh-i-noor, which means “mountain of light,” was mined in India around 800 years ago. The 105-carat stone was once the largest cut diamond in the world and passed from one dynasty to another before it ended up in the hands of the Mughal rulers. After the British colonisation of Punjab (an Indian province) in 1849, the gem was presented to Queen Victoria by the Maharaja of Lahore.

Queen Alexandra wears the Koh-i-noor Diamond.

Queen Alexandra wears the Koh-i-noor Diamond.

However, there are still some who believe that the diamond was taken unlawfully and rightfully belongs to the Indians and not the British. The primary aim of the group’s efforts is to force The Queen to return the diamond to India, and their case is based on principles of British Law that give institutions the power to return stolen artefacts. The campaign is also gaining popularity in Britain, especially among those who are of Indian origin, such as Labour MP Keith Vaz.

At the head of the legal proceedings is David de Souza, co-founder of the Indian leisure group Titos, who is helping to fund the campaign to recover the priceless gem. “The Koh-i-Noor is one of the many artefacts taken from India under dubious circumstances,” he said. “Colonisation did not only rob our people of wealth, it destroyed the country’s psyche itself. It brutalised society, traces of which linger on today in the form of mass poverty, lack of education and a host of other factors.”

Portrait_miniature_of_Ahmad_Shah_Durrani

Early owner of the Koh-i-noor, Ahmad Shah Durrani wears the diamond in 1757.

The Koh-i-noor went on display at the Great Exhibition in 1851 before being mounted on a brooch worn by Queen Victoria. After The Queen’s death, her daughter-in-law, the new queen, Alexandra had the stone set in her crown for her coronation. Every queen consort after Alexandra has worn the Koh-i-noor in her crown, the last of them being Queen Elizabeth and The Queen Mother, who used the diamond in her crown in 1937. The Queen Mother’s crown is currently on display at the Tower of London.

The Koh-i-noor Diamond is currently valued at around £100 million. Traditionally, it is only worn by queens and is said to bring bad luck to any man who wears it.

 

The Crown Jewels, the Koh-i-noor among them, belong to the Crown, which means that they are held by The Queen in her position as the sovereign and do not belong to her personally. As a result, the decision to return or retain the diamond will be made by the British government rather than Her Majesty herself.

However, during a visit to India in 2013, David Cameron refused to concede the diamond, saying: “I certainly don’t believe in ‘returnism’.” That was far from the first time a request to return the Koh-i-noor had been denied – in 1976, Prime Minister, Jim Callaghan said that he “could not advise Her Majesty The Queen that it [the Koh-i-noor] should be surrendered.”

Kohinoor

The Koh-i-noor in its first setting in 1851.

The newest threats of legal action coincide with Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s visit to the UK which includes a lunch with The Queen at Buckingham Palace at the end of the week. However, it remains unknown whether the two leaders will discuss the matter of the diamond.

 


Image Credit: Queen Alexandra of Great Britain via Wikipedia [Public Domain], Ahmad Shah Durrani via Wikipedia [Public Domain], Koh-i-noor in Original Setting  via Wikipedia [Public Domain].

 

  • vegastearoom

    The very definition of “Indian” giving. It was given as a gift almost 200 years ago. It was not given to the UK. It was given to their Empress. The Queen cannot be sued. What a wretched former colony. Independence has its consequences.

  • Tom Edwards

    If you ASK the British politely, they will oblige you with almost any accommodation or concession, or at the very least, a mutually agreeable compromise.

    But if you start barking out presumptuous demands and make attempts to seize things, it’s likely to have unhappy results. Ever hear of the Falkland Islands?

  • Qpid

    It has always been in the interest of western governments to conquer and immediately invade the museams and treasuries ect. Yet these items can and must be returned. Many of the museums in Canada have returned sacred artifact as well as the bones of loved one’s to the First Nations. So, yes they can be returned. Including the recent raid of Afghanistan’s museam, Syria’s museam, ect. Now ask yourself. What did they haul out of there and why?

    • Paul Evans

      that may be true to an extent but its SAFE where it is . this whole argument is based on the fact that India had already lost it once. why give it back to a careless nation when you can hold it securely let everyone enjoy it whenever they want..

  • Ray Clark

    Maybe we should also stop pouring millions of overseas aid into the Indian economy. These situations are always engineered in one direction – the poor oppressed being seen off by a past and greedy colonial empire. India is a booming economic state, the future is bright and the people on the verge of great affluence. The British brought much into their lives and helped shaped the present economic situation – a benevolent so-called oppressor. Maybe we should be asking them to repay us for the money invested in this economic miracle and also the countless thousands our nation saved from poverty that now think they own us. All too often we have to suffer the ungrateful whinging from aliens only too willing to shake us down at every opportunity. Oh yes, almost lost my thread – give them the diamond back once they make the necessary reparations.

    • Paul Evans

      theres almost as many indians in Birmingham as in Mumbai. maybe if they kept the diamond there it would feel more at home

  • Paul Evans

    begging pardon but wasn’t Maharaja of Lahore an indian. in 1806 when the diamond was given freely to queen Victoria as a gift? obviously Lahore is in Pakistan now but that’s not Englands fault. does this mean we can go back to using the term “indian giver” since it is real Indians and not native north americans who are doing it?

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