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10th Sep 2022

Former colonies of the Queen want their $400 million diamond back from the Crown Jewels

Steve Hopkins

The Koh-i-Noor is considered to be the world’s most expensive diamond

The western world has been gripped with the death of Queen Elizabeth II since news broke on Thursday evening, but soon after the 96-year-old passed away, some from her former colonies started debating the true ownership of a prized jewel.

In South Asia, the dissent centred on the Koh-i-Noor, a diamond said to be worth $400 million, and considered to be the world’s most expensive, Vice reported.

Ownership of the 109-carat Koh-i-Noor has been at the heart of a dispute between the British royalty and some of its former colonies and is said to symbolise a larger protest against the British for downplaying the brutality of their 200-year rule and the scale of their loot.

Within half an hour of news breaking of the Queen’s passing in Balmoral, South Asians across the world started asking for the controversial diamond back.

The Koh-i-Noor is said thought to bring bad luck to men but good fortune to women, and has been worn by generations of British queens, including the Queen Mother Elizabeth, who wore in in her crown. It is now on display at the Tower of London and will reportedly be passed down down to the wife of King Charles III , Camilla.

As Britain mourns Elizabeth II ahead of her funeral on September 19, some people from her former colonies have focused on the destruction the British empire brought upon large swathes of the world.

Indian economist Utsa Patnaik, who studied Britain’s economic history, told Vice the British took at least $45 trillion from the subcontinent between 1765 to 1938 – 17 times more than the annual gross domestic product of the UK today.

British royalty claim the Koh-i-Noor was a “gift,” although at least four countries – India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran – say it’s a looted item and should be returned.

“Britain owes us,” wrote Indian member of parliament Shashi Tharoor, who has been advocating the return of Koh-i-Noor.

“But, instead of returning the evidence of their rapacity to their rightful owners, the British are flaunting the Kohinoor on the Queen Mother’s crown in the Tower of London.”

The author of Jewel In the Crown, which documents how the British royalty got hold of the diamond, added, “It is a stark reminder of what colonialism truly was: shameless subjugation, coercion, and misappropriation.”

Around the time Elizabeth II was born, the British empire ruled over 412 million people – about one-fourth of the world’s population – and historians suggest that British colonisation was riddled with abuse, inequalities, racism, violence and extreme drain of wealth.

While the late Queen was not alive during the height of it, she had been accused of turning a blind eye.

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