The sinister journey of the Kohinoor: After Queen's death, several countries want famous diamond returned

The Kohinoor is housed in Tower of London as part of the Crown Jewels collection and Queen Consort Camilla will reportedly wear it at King Charles III' coronation

The sinister journey of the Kohinoor: After Queen's death, several countries want famous diamond returned
After Queen Elizabeth II’s recent death, critics have again called for the British government to return artifacts looted by the British Empire (John Stillwell - WPA Pool/Getty Images and Sion Touhig/Getty Images)
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LONDON, ENGLAND: After Queen Elizabeth II’s recent death, critics have yet again called for the British government to return artifacts looted by the British Empire. One of them is the world-famous Kohinoor diamond, now housed in the Tower of London as part of the Crown Jewels collection. Over the decades, multiple countries have claimed they own the jewel. New rumors have claimed that Camilla, now Queen Consort, will wear it at the coronation of King Charles III.

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The Kohinoor, or 'Mountain of Light', was originally about 186 carats uncut. It was possibly mined in South India in the 13th century. It is believed by certain Hindus that the diamond is the Syamantaka gem from the Bhagavad Purana tales of the god Krishna. The stone first appeared in the written record in 1628, when it formed the head of the 'Peacock Throne' of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan.

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The Koh-i-Noor and Regent or Pitt diamonds seen from different angles.
Circa 1860: The Kohinoor and Regent or Pitt diamonds are seen from different angles (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

According to Smithsonian Magazine, the stone was with the Mughals for a century, after which it was said to have been captured by the Persian and then Afghan empires. It was returned to India by Sikh Maharaja Ranjit Singh back in 1813. Britain’s East India Company was particularly interested in the gem, considering its almost mythical potency. However, the diamond remained in India until 1849, when Ranjit Singh’s son Maharaja Duleep Singh signed the Treaty of Lahore. Duleep was just a child at the time and was coerced into acknowledging the British annexation of Punjab. The diamond was thus turned over. 

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The stone was unveiled at the 1851 Great Exhibition in England. The diamond's dull appearance initially disappointed viewers, but to avoid public outcry, Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert got it recut and polished.

Meanwhile, rumors that circulated claimed the jewel was cursed and that any man who would wear it would experience great misfortune. These rumors also claimed the gem was spiritually saturated with the bloodshed of historical conquests.

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It is possible that due to these rumors, the diamond never became a star of the royal collection. It was worn by Queen Victoria as a brooch at times. Eventually, the Kohinoor made it to the crown of Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother. The famous diamond appeared in public for the last time in 2002 when it was placed on top of The Queen Mother’s casket at her funeral.

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Over the years, India has demanded that the Kohinoor be returned to them. After the country gained independence in 1947, it went on to enter a formal complaint. Similar claims have been lodged by the governments of Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan. The British government, however, has maintained that they would not return the diamond. 

'It should come back to its origin'

After Queen Elizabeth II's death recently, social media has come together to bring the Kohinoor issue to the fore yet again. One user tweeted, "Journey of #Kohinoor : From India to England. It should come back to its origin, the least UK can do towards the centuries of exploitation, opression, racism, slavery inflicted on people of the Indian subcontinent."

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Another wrote, "Let’s not forget the queen refused to return the kohinoor diamond back to India after the British stole it". "On behalf of Indians, we want our Kohinoor back," one user said.


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"Please return stolen kohinoor diamond back to Afghanistan so #QueenElizabeth can see heaven," one user wrote, while another insisted, "The fact that India have the audacity to say that the Kohinoor belongs to them. I’m pretty sure it was originally found in lahore therefore belongs to Pakistan."

"Ironically some say the Kohinoor should be returned to #Iran because the Persian king Nadir had it as the spoil of war. He stole it. The Brits re-stole it. If the diamond came from a mine in #India, worn by Indian monarchs, it should be returned to #India," one user said.

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This article contains remarks made on the Internet by individual people and organizations. MEAWW cannot confirm them independently and does not support claims or opinions being made online.

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