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Indian Jewels In The British Crown

Crown of the Queen Mother replica at Royal Coster Diamonds exhibition scaled

Ahead of the coronation, here is a look at some of the Indian valuables which are in the hands of the British. King Charles the 3rd is to be crowned at Westminster Abbey on 6 May 2023. He is said to have a scaled-back ceremony, keeping with the traditions of thousands of years. He will be the fortieth monarch to be crowned upon ascending to the throne on the 8th of September 2022 upon the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth the 2nd. One thing that will not change is the use of jewels on the coronation regalia. The British monarchy is the only one that still has a coronation. 

Some may have been given to the Crown, gifted or even stolen. The most famous of these jewels is the Kohinoor diamond, the controversial diamond will not be seen at this year’s coronation as it raised several eyebrows. The Kohinoor sits in the crown of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, it was used at the time of her coronation in 1937. Only women ever have worn the Kohinoor as it’s said that if a man wears it, it will bring bad luck. 

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The Kohinoor Diamond. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

However, India contests that, saying that if India was never colonised by the British, the jewels would never have ended up in the British Crown’s collection. The Kohinoor has been in the hands of the Mughals, the Iranians, the Afghanians, the Persians and finally the British. Other items include an emerald-encrusted gold girdle which was made for Maharaja Sher Singh in 1843. It was used to decorate the harness of his horse. It has square or hexagon shaped emeralds, a part of 18 sections separated by gold links and a buckle. From Duleep Singh, the last Maharaja of the Sikh Empire, the Timur Ruby, a red spinel set in a necklace, and the Kohinoor diamond were taken. 

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The Timur Ruby Necklace. Credit: The Court Jeweller

These items were extracted from India as trophies of conquest by the East India Company officials. They are valued pieces of art with strong roots in the Indian nation’s history. The items are owned by the monarch and are property of the British Crown. It begs the question, will these jewels ever return to India? In almost all official documents, it states that the jewels were given as a gift to the then Queen Victoria. There are several other items besides the jewels that are either in the British Museum or exhibits. 


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