New Tower of London Display to Explain Kohinoor's Story as 'a Symbol of Conquest'

The display will open to the public just after King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla are crowned in an official ceremony.

New Delhi: As the pitch is being raised for Great Britain to return historical artefacts it has looted or stolen to countries of their origin, the Tower of London has announced an exhibition in which the Koh-i-Noor diamond will be explained as a “symbol of conquest.”

The display will begin on May 26 at the Jewel House, which has housed several famous diamonds for centuries. It will come just after King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla are crowned in an official ceremony.

According to a press release by the Historic Royal Palaces, the display will explore “more stories than ever before about the history and significance of the Crown Jewels.”

Of the crown jewels, the most talked about is the Koh-i-Noor, at one point the largest diamond in the world. It is believed to have been mined in the Deccan region by rulers of the Vijayanagar Empire, likely sometime before the 13th century.  It last belonged to Maharaja Duleep Singh, the last Maharaja of the Sikh Empire, before changing hands and going to Queen Victoria in the mid-19th century. Garrard, the royal jeweller, then cut it to improve its brilliance.

The statement says:

“The history of the Koh-i-Noor, which is set within the Crown of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, will be explored. A combination of objects and visual projections will explain the stone’s story as a symbol of conquest, with many previous owners, including Mughal Emperors, Shahs of Iran, Emirs of Afghanistan, and Sikh Maharajas.”

Amidst periodic and growing clamour for the return of the Kohinoor, especially since Charles’ accession to the throne, Rahul Bedi had written for The Wire that most cyber citizens are unaware that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party-led Hindu nationalist government had renounced its claims to the Kohinoor six years ago.

The diamond is believed to be a symbol of ill luck for whoever has owned it.

The exhibit will also feature the Cullinan diamond of South Africa, which the press release describes as the largest gem-quality uncut diamond ever “found” at 3106 carats.

The hammer and knife used to make the first cuts will also be displayed. The largest two stones that the diamond was split into feature in the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross and the Imperial State Crown.

Andrew Jackson, Resident Governor of the Tower of London and Keeper of the Jewel House, says in the press release that the display will offer visitors “a richer understanding of this magnificent collection.”