- Koh-i-Noor diamond shone in crowns of Queen Alexandra and Queen Mary
- But it could be stripped from Britain’s Crown Jewels and returned to India
- Bollywood stars and businessmen have united to launch legal proceedings
- Demanding the Government return the diamond, which they say was stolen
It is the extraordinary £100 million diamond worn by the Queen Mother at the Coronation of her husband and then her daughter.
But the Koh-i-Noor, which also dazzled in the crowns of Queen Alexandra and Queen Mary, could be stripped from Britain’s Crown Jewels and returned to India.
Bollywood stars and businessmen have united to instruct lawyers to begin legal proceedings in London’s High Court. They are demanding that the Government return the 105-carat diamond, which they say was stolen from its true home.
Dazzling: The Koh-i-Noor diamond could be stripped from Britain’s Crown Jewels and returned to India
The move could result in some awkward moments at a lunch the Queen is hosting for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Buckingham Palace this week, although a Royal source said the row was strictly off the agenda.
It also reopens a controversial case in British colonial history and adds to the legend of the Koh- i-Noor, which can be worn only ‘by God or a woman’.
David de Souza, of the Indian leisure group Tito’s, who is helping to fund the fight, said: ‘The Koh- i-Noor is one of the many artefacts taken from India under dubious circumstance.’
The Government has rejected demands for the return of the oval-shaped stone, which was presented to Queen Victoria in 1851.
Crowning glory: Then Queen Elizabeth, with daughter Elizabeth, wears the diamond at George VI’s Coronation
Last night historian Andrew Roberts told The Mail on Sunday: ‘Those involved in this ludicrous case should recognise that the British Crown Jewels is precisely the right place for the Koh-i-Noor diamond to reside, in grateful recognition for over three centuries of British involvement in India, which led to the modernisation, development, protection, agrarian advance, linguistic unification and ultimately the democratisation of the sub-continent.’
Bollywood star: Bhumicka Singh
The case has drawn comparisons to that of the Elgin Marbles, the ancient sculptures held at the British Museum that Greece wants returned. However, Mr Roberts said: ‘Britain has an even better case to keep the Koh-i-Noor, acquired as the result of a legally binding treaty, than the Elgin Marbles, which is also watertight.’
The diamond was given to Queen Victoria by the last ruler of the Sikhs, Duleep Singh, after the British annexe of the Punjab. The handing over of such a revered gem is still considered a national humiliation in India.
British lawyers instructed by the ‘Mountain of Light’ group (the translation of Koh-i-Noor) to repatriate it said last night they would base their case on the Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) Act, which gives national institutions in the UK the power to return stolen art.
Satish Jakhu, of Birmingham-based law firm Rubric Lois King, said they would make their claim under the common law doctrine of ‘trespass to goods’, arguing that the Government had stolen the diamond. He added they would also be taking the case to the International Court of Justice.
The latest row adds to seven centuries of blood-soaked history which has seen the gem handed down within dynasties and across countries. Pakistan, India, Iran and even the Taliban in Afghanistan have all laid claim to the stone which was first documented in 1304.
Legend decrees that whoever wears it will become incredibly powerful but that any male owner will meet an unfortunate end.
The then Queen Elizabeth had it crafted into the centrepiece of the crown she wore in 1937 for the Coronation of her husband King George VI. The diamond remains there to this day.
The crown was also placed on the Queen Mother’s coffin during her lying-in-state in 2002.
Source: Mailonline 8 Nov 2015
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