Former colonies of the British Empire want diamonds worth $800 million back from the Crown Jewels

Poppy Bilderbeck

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Former colonies of the British Empire want diamonds worth $800 million back from the Crown Jewels

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock/@Africa_Archives/Twitter

Calls have been growing for some of the Queen's crown jewels to be returned to India and Africa.

Queen Elizabeth II passed away on Thursday, 8 September at Balmoral Castle, Scotland. She was 96 years old.

While many have taken to the streets of London near Buckingham Palace, the area around Windsor Castle, as well as social media to pay their respects, others have spoken out about the colonial history of the country which the Queen served for 70 years.

In particular, people have been calling for the return of the Koh-i-Noor diamond which is currently set in the crown of the Queen Mother and is part of the Crown Jewels on display at the Tower of London and the Great Star of Africa set in the Sovereign's Sceptre, which is also part of the Crown Jewels.

The Koh-i-Noor is one of the largest cut diamonds in the world coming in at just over 105 carats. It is said to be worth between $140 and $400 million, but is also hailed as priceless. It is also known as one of the world's most controversial diamonds too.

While it is believed to have first been mentioned over 5,000 years ago in a Sanskrit script, the diamond was referred to as the Syamantaka and subsequently who actually had ownership of it was simply speculation.

It is reported as being owned by the Rajas of Malwa until 1304, followed by the Emperor of Delhi, Alauddin Khilji.

After that, for the next 300 years from the year of 1339, it stayed in the city of Samarkand.

The Queen Mother's crown with the Koh-i-noor Diamond. Credit: Tom Hanley / Alamy Stock Photo
The Queen Mother's crown with the Koh-i-noor Diamond. Credit: Tom Hanley / Alamy Stock Photo

The Koh-i-Noor remained in India until 1849, when British forces conquered the Punjab and it became part of the British East India Company.

It was then shipped back to Britain and, in July 1850, given to Queen Victoria.

The diamond was eventually cut and worn by the Queen, who stated in her will it should only ever be worn by a female monarch or carried by the wife of the head of state.

The diamond became part of the crown jewels after Queen Victoria passed away.

India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran have all contested British Royalty's ownership of the Koh-i-Noor diamond, stating it was looted from them despite the monarchy having claimed it was a 'gift'.

The Tower of London website states: "The Crown Jewels, part of the Royal Collection, are the most powerful symbols of the British Monarchy and hold deep religious and cultural significance in our nation’s history."

However, Indian politician and former international civil servant Shashi Tharoor has called out Britain as 'ow[ing] its former colonies'.

"Instead of returning plundered patrimony to its rightful owners, the British are clinging to stolen artefacts such as the Kohinoor diamond, which they embedded in the Queen Mother’s tiara and shamelessly flaunt in the Tower of London," Tharoor said.

Calls have also grown for the Great Star of Africa - also known as Cullinan I and First Star of Africa - to be returned.

The Cullinan I diamond is set in the Sovereign Sceptre. Credit: The Print Collector / Alamy Stock Photo
The Cullinan I diamond is set in the Sovereign Sceptre. Credit: The Print Collector / Alamy Stock Photo

Africa Archives tweeted: "Queen Elizabeth II owns the largest clear-cut diamond in the world known as the Great Star of Africa. The 530-carat gem was mined in South Africa back in 1905. It was stolen from South Africa. It has an estimated worth of $400 million.

"The British claim that it was given to them as a symbol of friendship and peace yet it was during colonialism. The British then replaced the name 'The Great Star of Africa' with name of Chairman of Mine 'Thomas Cullinan'."

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Topics: News, The Queen, Royal Family, UK News, World News

Poppy Bilderbeck
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