India Says Britain Can Keep Its Cursed Jewel

Some believe the Koh-i-Noor was forcibly taken
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 19, 2016 10:37 AM CDT
India Says Britain Can Keep Its Cursed Jewel
The Koh-i-Noor diamond is set in the Maltese Cross on this crown.   (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, File)

For decades, Indians have demanded that Britain return a 105.6-carat diamond that they say was taken from them when they were under colonial rule. The matter may soon be settled, and not in their favor. In a Monday appearance before India's Supreme Court, which was hearing a case on the stone, Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar said the Koh-i-Noor diamond "was neither stolen nor forcibly taken away." In recommending the government relinquish its claim, Kumar said Maharaja Ranjit Singh bestowed the gem—"the most famous diamond in the crown jewels," per its current profile on the British royal palaces website—on Queen Victoria in 1849 for Britain's help in the Sikh wars. It isn't clear what brought about the change of heart, though Kumar said pressing India's claim might result in other countries "claiming their items from us."

The Telegraph notes Kumar also referenced a 1970s law that says only those items removed illegally from pre-independent India may be pursued by the government. While the royals are likely thrilled—the jewel is embedded in a crown that was worn by the Queen Mother and will be sported by Kate as queen consort—the man who petitioned the Supreme Court is less so, per Reuters: "The British rulers looted India and the government is making a mistake by not supporting our claims." The diamond is said to have surfaced in the 1300s and "passed through the hands of conquering Mughal princes, Iranian warriors, Afghan rulers," some of whom met a fate that gained the diamond a reputation as cursed and "unlucky for men to wear," writes the Guardian. The profile says it came to Britain "as the spoils of Empire." (This man bought the world's priciest gem for his 7-year-old.)

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