The Koh-i-Noor, the cursed diamond that Camilla gave up wearing at the coronation

The crown of the Queen Mother.

Next May 6 will be a historic date for british royal family: King Carlos III will be crowned as monarch of the kingdom as his mother was 70 years ago.

Buckingham Palace has been revealing details of the occasion: a three-day celebration that will begin with a church service at Westminster Abbey, where the sovereign will receive the crown and symbols of his reign, and will include processions as well as a concert with “global music icons and contemporary stars”.

Everything is being meticulously planned, not only so that the festivity is up to par, but to precisely balance solemnity and joy without falling into exuberancewhich can draw criticism at a time when your nation is experiencing economic difficulties.

But the announcement made this week had a more diplomatic tone: there will be a brilliant absence who was present at the last two coronations.

Camilla, the queen consort, will be crowned with the crown of Queen Mary, and not with that of the Queen Mother, the Royal House clarified.

The Queen Mother crown was created for Queen Elizabeth, mother of Elizabeth II, for the coronation of King George VI on May 12, 1937.

In addition to wearing it at state openings of Parliament during her husband’s reign, she wore it for the coronation of their daughter, Queen Elizabeth II, in 1953.

That is why it was speculated that it would be the one that would be put on the head of the wife of Carlos III.

But it won’t for what it has on the central front cross: the Koh-i-Noor diamond.

Drawings of the Koh-i-Noor diamond dating from around 1860Drawings of the Koh-i-Noor diamond dating from around 1860

Drawings of the Koh-i-Noor diamond dating to around 1860.

Britain wants to avoid diplomatic problems with India, which claims to be the rightful owner of the gem.

And it is not the only one: Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran have also declared their owners in the past.

Although it is not the most perfect diamond and it is far from the largest in the world, its history has made it one of the most famous and controversial.

a mysterious stone

It is impossible to know when or where precisely the Koh-i-Noor was found, despite various theories and myths about its origins.

Some they say it is Syamantaka. the legendary gem with magical powers from the Bhagavad Purana tales of Krishna, one of the most popular gods in the Hindu pantheon.

This was recorded by the British Theo Metcalfe in the official history of the Koh-i-Noor that he was ordered to compile in Delhi in 1849, noting that, according to tradition, “this diamond was mined during Krishna’s lifetime.”

What is known with certainty is that it was not extracted from a mine, since Indian diamonds were never mined. They were found in alluvial deposits in dry riverbeds.

And that although today there are another 2,800 precious stones among the crown jewels, it has not always been there.

Crown Jewels, four largest Cullinan diamonds, Koh-i-noor diamond on dark blue leather setting, with ruler, 1 carat diamond.Crown Jewels, four largest Cullinan diamonds, Koh-i-noor diamond on dark blue leather setting, with ruler, 1 carat diamond.

Crown jewels: the four Cullinan diamonds and the Koh-i-noor diamond.

The precious gem has not only been passed from generation to generation of powerful families, but it has been stolen, it has been fought over, it has gone through all kinds of tricks and deceit for centuries.

mountain of light

Its splendor was so seductive that in 1635 adorned the throne of Mughal ruler Shah Jahan among a sparkling sea of ​​rubies, emeralds and pearls.

The Mughals held power in India for a century after the throne was created, but soon the country’s vast riches became famous and Persian ruler Nader Shah decided to invade.

In 1739, he entered Delhi and stole a treasure so large that it is said that it took 700 elephants, 4,000 camels, and 12,000 horses to carry it off. The throne was part of his booty.

For the first time in its existence, the dazzling diamond left India. And it got its name: Koh-i-Noor which means “Mountain of Light” in Persian.

Shah removed the diamond from the throne and he placed it in a bracelet that he carried with him.

For decades, the diamond sat in a country that would become Afghanistan, passing from ruler to ruler in blood-soaked battles.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh.Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

In 1813 he was back in India.

There, too, it passed through a myriad of dynasties, invaders or leaders who established their kingdoms and fiefdoms in those lands.

Finally it came into the hands of the Sikh Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who founded the Sikh Empire in the Punjab in 1799.

And then the British came.

“A gift”

The British East India Company, which had conquered swaths of India, heard rumors of a priceless treasure called Koh-i-Noor and set out to obtain it.

For Lord Dalhousie, the imperialist Governor-General of India, the diamond was the supreme symbol of power.

He wanted the UK to own the Jewel of India, as well as the country itself.

“He knew his history. He knew he was fit for a queen and that he epitomized superior British rule of his subjects,” author and political commentator Saurav Dutt told BBC Reel.

Lord Dalhousie’s chance finally came in 1849.

Duleep Sing, the boy king, in the center of a painting made in 1843.Duleep Sing, the boy king, in the center of a painting made in 1843.

Duleep Sing, the boy king, in the center of a painting made in 1843.

There were conflicting versions about the circumstances in which the diamond was delivered, including that it was a gift.

But Anita Anand, a BBC journalist and co-author of a book on Koh-i-Noor, said: “I haven’t heard of many ‘gifts’ being delivered at bayonet point“.

He was referring to another version.

Ranjit Singh had died in 1939, and despite signing friendship treaties with him, the British began deploying troops around the border, Anand said.

This was regarded as an open act of aggression by the Sikhs and a war broke out in which the British emerged victorious.

On the condition that they would have “full authority to direct and control all affairs in all departments of the State”, they insisted on leaving the Maharaja on the throne, who by then, after his brother’s death, was Duleep Sing, the Ranjit’s youngest son.

The deletion of his mother, the Regent, sparked a second Anglo-Sikh war, which left the once mighty empire utterly weakened, with a boy king at its head.

with only 10 years Duleep Singh handed over his kingdom and Koh-i-Noor to the British.

Queen Victoria with the Koh-i-Noor as a brooch, painted by Franz Xaver Winterhalter.Queen Victoria with the Koh-i-Noor as a brooch, painted by Franz Xaver Winterhalter.

Queen Victoria with the Koh-i-Noor as a brooch, painted by Franz Xaver Winterhalter.

The famous diamond was “brought to England in honor of the glory of our arms in India, as one of the splendid trophies of our military valor,” as Britain’s Delhi Gazette newspaper reported.

Prince Albert had it recut in the 1850s to make it shine more and it was placed in a brooch for Queen Victoria. He was eventually incorporated into the crown jewels.

Koh-i-Noor and Twitter

The gem made a public appearance in 2002 atop the Queen Mother’s coffin.

However, it was the death of Queen Elizabeth II in 2022 which caused the words Koh-i-Noor to start trending on Twitterwith many Indians calling for it to be returned.

“As an individual, there was nothing but respect for the queen because she always gave herself class and dignity, and that was undeniable,” Dutt explained.

“But (his death) also marked a clear point in the Indian subconscious: this is the end of an era linked to India’s darkest chapters.”

“India was rich and admired but it was dismembered by many imperial regimes, leaving a divided, chiseled land that doubts its languages, its heritage, and that trauma takes many years to overcome and put those pieces back together.”

“I think for the Indians it represents an opportunity to draw a line under many centuries of extremely dark history.”


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