The 105-carat Kohinoor diamond, which was set in the Crown of the Queen Mother in 1937, has been passed to the Queen Consort Camilla following the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Camilla will reportedly wear the crown when her husband King Charles III takes the coronation oath next spring.
The diamond has a storied—and controversial—past, and since the death of Queen Elizabeth II was announced, there have been calls in India—the diamond’s place of origin—for it to be returned.
Here’s what you need to know about this historic gemstone, and why it has ignited so much debate.
Its history goes back hundreds of years—and it had long been a prized possession of rulers
The Kohinoor, or “mountain of light” in Persian, was mined between 1100 and 1300 AD in present-day India. It is believed to have weighed 793 carats when it was mined.
The diamond was in the possession of the King of Malwa in India when it was acquired by the Sultan of Delhi, Alla-ud-din Khilji, in around 1306 AD. The stone is also mentioned in The Baburnama, the compiled memoirs of Babur, who founded the Mughal empire in India in the 16th century.
According to Britannica, the King of Gwalior presented the stone to the son of Babur at the 1526 Battle of Panipat in Delhi.
It is also believed that the stone was in Shah Jahan’s possession until the 17th century, when it was captured by Iranian ruler Nadir Shah during a raid on Delhi's Red Fort. Following the death of the Nadir Shah, the diamond came into the possession of Ahmad Shah Durrani, the founder of Afghanistan’s Durrani dynasty. But it was eventually returned to India when Ahmad Shah’s exiled kin surrendered it to the Sikh Maharaja, Ranjit Singh, who was known to wear a bejewelled turban.
Fast forward to 1846 and the signing of the Treaty of Lahore by King Dilip Singh, who agreed to surrender the Kohinoor to the British empire. Four years later, the diamond was delivered to Buckingham Palace, where upon request by Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband, royal jeweller Garrard cut and polished it from 186 carats to its current lustre, measuring 106 carats.
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