The 105-carat Koh-i-Noor diamond, currently embedded in the crown worn by the Queen Mother at her daughter’s coronation, is stunning, enormous, and worth a fortune. And a group of businessmen and Bollywood stars wants it returned to India.
“What diamond?” a royal functionary wants to know, having just hidden it behind the Parthenon marbles.
As the Independent explains, the Koh-i-Noor “was given to the reigning Queen of the time by the last ruler of the Sikhs, Duleep Singh, after the British annexe of the Punjab.” Well, if you’ve just taken over somebody’s neighborhood by force, you really shouldn’t kid yourself about why you’re suddenly getting such great birthday gifts—hence the clamor for its return. The group, which includes David de Souza and Bhumicka Singh, have rounded up some lawyers and told them to start proceedings to get it back:
British Lawyers instructed by the “Mountain of Light” group to return the stone, said they would base their case on the Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) Act, which gives national institutions in the UK the power to return stolen art.
Satish Jakhu, of Birmingham-based law firm Rubric Lois King, said they would make their claim under the common law doctrine of “trespass to goods”, arguing that the government had stolen the diamond. He added that they would be taking their case to the International Court of Justice.
This isn’t the first time somebody has requested that the United Kingdom hand over the diamond. The government of India has asked multiple times, and Pakistan has taken a turn, too. (So the question of whom to return it wouldn’t be entirely simple, either.) The Telegraph wrote in 2010:
It was David Cameron’s turn to defend Britain’s imperial light-fingeredness this week when, during his visit to India, he was asked for the return of the diamond, whose name means Mountain of Light. Some Indians have suggested that giving back the gem would serve as “atonement” for the excesses of the Raj.
“If you say yes to one you suddenly find the British Museum would be empty,” explained the Prime Minister to his Indian interviewer, with a mind to the Rosetta Stone, Elgin Marbles and the rest. “I am afraid to say, it is going to have to stay put.”
You know, that’s really not fair to the Lindow Man.
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Photo via AP Images.