Koh-i-Noor diamond: what is it, why is it controversial, will Camilla wear it on crown at coronation?

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Camilla, the Queen consort, is planning to wear a modified version of Queen Mary’s crown for Charles’ coronation

Queen consort Camilla is planning to wear a recycled crown for the coronation of King Charles III. It is the first time that a queen consort crown has been re-used since the 18th Century when Queen Caroline, consort of George II, wore Mary of Modena’s crown. Camilla is planning to wear a modified version of Queen Mary’s crown, which was designed by Garrard for the 1911 coronation of George V.

In tribute to Queen Elizabeth II, the crown features the Cullinan III,IV and V diamonds which were all part of the late monarch’s collection during her 70-year reign on the throne. The new crown has many similarities to the one worn by Queen Mary, but Buckingham Palace has opted not to include the Koh-i-Noor diamond on the new crown due to its controversial background.

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But what is the Koh-i-Noor diamond and why has it been removed from Camilla’s new crown? Here is everything you need to know.

What is the Koh-i-Noor diamond?

The Koh-i-Noor diamond, Persian for ‘Mountain of Light’, is one of the largest cut diamonds in the world weighing 105.6 carats. Queen Victoria was the first royal to gain possession of it in the 19th Century and it has remained in the royal family ever since.

Since arriving in the UK, the diamond has only been worn by female members of the royal family. The huge diamond took pride of place at the front of Queen Mary’s crown for her coronation in 1911, but it was later replaced by a replica in 1937 with the original being passed down to Elizabeth, the Queen Mother for her and King George VI’s coronation.

The Queen Mother’s crown bearing the Koh-i-Noor diamond (Getty Images)The Queen Mother’s crown bearing the Koh-i-Noor diamond (Getty Images)
The Queen Mother’s crown bearing the Koh-i-Noor diamond (Getty Images) | Getty Images

The diamond is now part of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom and thousands of tourists flock to see the Koh-i-Noor up close when visiting The Tower of London.

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Why is the Koh-i-noor diamond controversial?

The history of the Koh-i-Noor diamond and how it came to be a part of the British Crown Jewels remains a disputed topic.

The diamond was first seized by the East Indian Company after its victory in the Second Anglo-Sikh War of 1849 and gifted to Queen Victoria.

The Koh-i-Noor has been a subject of diplomatic controversy, with India, Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan all claiming to be the rightful owners of the gem. Each of the countries has demanded its return from the UK at various points.

Former prime minister David Cameron rejected calls for it to return to India during a trip in 2010. Cameron told the Indian TV channel NDTV: “If you say yes to one you suddenly find the British Museum would be empty. I think I am afraid to say, to disappoint all your viewers, it is going to have to stay put.”

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Historian Dr Anna Keay also claimed that the diamond has had many different owners since its creation - making it hard to return it to any particular country. Keay said: “The crucial thing is this diamond has been in circulation since the beginning of the 16th Century during which time it has been in the hands of whole sequences of different rulers.

“Either you take the view that objects should stay in the country which they artistically or geologically sprang. Or you say things, through the passage of time and circumstances, change hands and that is the nature of cultural exchange. In that case, it is very hard to see a convincing argument for the diamond to go back to India.”

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