Decision on Koh-i-noor diamond in Camilla’s crown down to Palace – Government

The famous but controversial jewel features in the Queen Mother’s coronation crown which was due to be used to crown Camilla next year on May 6.

13 October 2022

The Government has said it is down to Buckingham Palace to decide whether the controversial Koh-i-noor diamond should be used in the coronation of the Queen Consort.

The governing party of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi is reported to have expressed concern that the famous gem which was seized by the East India Company and given to Queen Victoria in the 19th century would provide an unwelcome reminder of the British Empire.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly told Sky News: “Ultimately, decisions like that are for the palace. The palace is really very good at assessing the public, and indeed the international, mood.”

Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, wore the diamond in a crown for her 1937 coronation (PA Archive)
Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, wore the diamond in a crown for her 1937 coronation (PA Archive)

He added: “We have a fantastic relationship with India and the Indian people. It is a decision for the palace and I have no doubt the coronation will be an absolute celebration.”

The historic 105.6 carat treasure was presented to Victoria by the East India Company in 1849 and became part of the Crown Jewels.

The Queen Mother’s coronation crown, made especially for her 1937 coronation, features the sparkling gem, which sits, in the front cross-pattee in a detachable platinum mount, according to the Royal Collection.

Options could include the removal of the diamond and its mount, replacement with a crystal replica, or Camilla could opt for another crown.

Palace officials are understood to be reviewing whether she should wear the jewel, with the King acutely aware of the sensitivities.

She is due to be crowned in a similar but simpler ceremony as part of the King’s coronation on May 6 next year in Westminster Abbey.

According to the Telegraph, a spokesman for Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party said: “The coronation of Camilla and the use of the crown jewel Koh-i-noor brings back painful memories of the colonial past.

Royal engagements in Scotland
The King and the Queen Consort will be crowned in May (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“Most Indians have very little memory of the oppressive past. Five to six generations of Indians suffered under multiple foreign rules for over five centuries.

“Recent occasions, like Queen Elizabeth II’s death, the coronation of the new Queen Camilla and the use of the Koh-i-noor does transport a few Indians back to the days of the British Empire in India.”

The coronation crown – which features 2,800 diamonds – adorned the Queen Mother’s coffin at her lying in state and funeral in 2002.

The Koh-i-Noor, which means Mountain of Light, was discovered in the Golconda mines in what is now the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

The large, colourless diamond then passed between Mughal princes, Iranian warriors, Afghan rulers and Punjabi Maharajas before it was given in 1849 to the East India Company, which offered it to Queen Victoria.

India, along with Pakistan and Afghanistan, have long squabbled over who has the rightful claim to the gem.

King Charles III coronation
The Queen Mother’s coronation crown (PA)

It is said to bring bad luck to any man who wears it.

Prince Albert had the Koh-i-Noor re-cut to improve its brilliance and conform to contemporary European tastes.

Buckingham Palace has declined to comment.

The date for the coronation was unveiled on Tuesday, and the deeply religious affair will take place in the London Abbey, eight months after Charles’s accession to the throne and the death of the Queen.

The Palace said the ceremony will be “rooted in longstanding traditions and pageantry” but also “reflect the monarch’s role today and look towards the future”.

Charles III will be anointed with holy oil, receive the orb, coronation ring and sceptre, be crowned with the majestic St Edward’s Crown and blessed during the historic ceremony, with Camilla also be anointed with holy oil and crowned.

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