A Diamond’s Battle (Ghosoun A)

KOH-I-NOOR: A Diamond’s Battle

The KOH-I-NOOR Diamond. (GemSelect)

The KOH-I-NOOR is one of the most disputed diamond in the world, it rest in the middle of queen Elizabeth crown, but the history behind it seems to be blurry, there are no authentic documents or evidences that support its origin. Both United Kingdom and India are arguing its ownership.

The diamond was transferred from India to Britain during the British Empire Era, a time  Britain had powerful controls over Indian territories. today, the argument of KOH-I-NOOR is divided by two conclusion, either the diamond was stolen from India or it was a gift from India. When it comes to KOH-I-NOOR, Public history can play a huge rule on shaping the history behind this beautiful diamond.

In 1849, ten years old Duleep Singh maharaja of Punjab sign the formal act of submission to end the Anglo-Sikh war. (Peter Bance)

Stolen or a gift?

its all began in 1849, when the East Indian Trading Company forced the ten years old Duleep Singh maharaja of Punjab to sign the formal act of submission to end the Anglo-Sikh war. The treaty also stated the diamond release to the Queen of England. The first three article of the treaty stated the following:

I.   His Highness the Maharajah Duleep Singh shall resign for himself, his heirs, and his successors all right, title, and claim to the sovereignty of the Punjab, or to any sovereign power whatever.

II.  All the property of the State, of whatever description and whososever found, shall be confiscated to the Honorable East India Company, in part payment of the debt due by the State of Lahore to the British Government and of the expenses of the war.

III. The gem called the Koh-i-Noor… shall be surrendered by the Maharajah of Lahore to the Queen of England.

Why include a diamond into an important treaty? Is it a way to justify future arguments or an evidence  of British ownership?  this treaty made the KOH-I-NOOR a British property.


king Satrajit Krishna giving the Syamantaka gem to lord Krishna. (Victoria and Albert museum, London)

India’s Claim

Its stolen! India has arrgued that the KOH-I-NOOR is an Indian diamond that was stolen by the British empire, therefor, it should be return to its mother land. India, also claim the KOH-I-NOOR is part of Indian Hinduism history, the journey of the diamond started from the mythical stories in Indian Bhagavad Purana manuscript, the legendary lord Krishna was given the Syamantaka gem by king Satrajit Krishna. later, the KOH-I-NOOR ownership travels from Hindu gods to Mughal emperors, Afghan warlords and Indian Maharajas.

Indian officails demand the return of the Diamond. (Getty Images)

the questions here, if the British government agreed to give back the gem, to whom shall the KAH-I-NOOR belong? would it go to the ancestors of the Mughal emperors, or the ancestors of the Afghan warlords? or shall it go to rightful ownership of the diamond, the  ancestors of the maharaja of Punjab, Duleep Singh? he was the last person owning the KOH-I-NOOR.  If the origin of the KOH-I-NOOR is a mystery, how can it related to India?

Today, India is fighting the British authorities to gain back their precious diamond. The Indian government claimed the origin of the KOH-I-NOOR is written and portrayed in their ancient’s documents and history, therefore, it should be returned at once. In 1947,  India got its independent from Britain and from that day the debate of bringing back the diamond is still circulated in the Indians government. The issue is still being debated, to the Indian people the KOH-I-NOOR is not a regular gem, its India its self.

Britain’s Claim


The KOH-I-NOOR rest in the middle of queen Elizabeth crown. (The Telegraph)

Its a gift! British official have argued that the KOH-I-NOOR was a gift from the young Maharaja as a token for ending the the Anglo-Sikh war, therefore, its a legal British property. The British may not have the historical background of this beautiful diamond, but they do have this treaty that give solid evidence of ownership. the fact of being a gift or stolen cannot be determine. The East Indian Trading Company treaty made this argument legal and authentic.

today, British official states that there will be no release of the KOH-I-NOOR diamond, the gem will continue to be a British property for as long as it take. In 2010, Prime Minister David Cameron said “If you say yes to one you suddenly find the British Museum would be empty, I think I’m afraid to say, to disappoint all your viewers, it’s going to have to say put”. this statement is clearly an indication of British intention toward the disputed gem. if there are no solid documents that indicate the rightful owner of the diamond, it will continue to be in the position of British monarchy.

The change of KHO-I-NOOR


Great Exhibition of 1851. (Hulton Archive/Stringer)

After the surrender of Punjab, the Diamond was sent to Britain to be presented to Queen Victoria, she sent it one of the famous jeweler in Amsterdam called Woorsanger to have it more shine and reshape. the diamond resized from 186 carats to 106 carats, by now, The KOH-I-NOOR lost its Indian root and originality to become a monarchy symbol for power and wealth in Britain.

In 1851, it displayed at the Great Exhibition for the first time, many royals and high Monarchies attend this important exhibition. today, the The diamond is displayed in the London tower, one of the highest historic monuments, its hint of the importance of KOH-I-NOOR in the British history, a symbol of pride and power.

The provoking moments of KOH-I-NOOR


The royal tour in 1961, Queen Elizabeth II with President Prasad at a Palace Garden. (Getty Images)

The issue of KOH-I-NOOR seems to surface when ever there is an event that is related to both the diamond and India. In 1961, during the royal tour, Queen Elizabeth II visited India and the issue of KOH-I-NOOR was raised. The Indian officials demanded the Queen to return their precious diamond, but of corse, the British official did not act toward the claim.

The Queen mother coffin ceremony in 2002. (Getty Images)

Another event that made a huge  stir is the 2002 Queen mother Elizabeth  coffin ceremony. The royal crown that host the KOH-I-NOOR diamond was placed over the coffin, this act indicated the power of the British colonization, but  made a huge tension in India. Indian official were displease with the ceremony and demanded the diamond back.

To the British, it’s a gift of appreciation from ending the Anglo-Sikh war and symbol of power and wealth. As for the Indian, it’s a stolen object that was taken from a young boy without consideration. The history behind the diamond is not very popular for everyone, a person need to search deep to find more answers relating to the KOH-I-NOOR. The origin of the diamond is a mystery and will always stays the same way.  for the Indian, the diamond will always be the link that still ties them to Britain, it would only be broken if they got their gem back. As for the British, they want the diamond to be forgotten or erased from history, its a British property with British shape, there are no Indian roots any more.

British side of history only written displays. (National Turks)

In conclusion, to the British benefits, the public can only read what the British historian want them to read, only the British side of history would be placed and written on displays, this information would feed the newer generation and make sure the history is forgotten and India would have no claim. Not to forget, the reshape of the diamond made it more British rather than Indian, the Queen wanted to erase the Indian face of the diamond and replace it with more British shape, this act is a strong statement of who has the power and control, and give indirect message to all its opponents.

The Indian history was excluded from the diamond back ground because of it mythical origin, even though it’s a sacred and religious history to the India, it’s a myth and nonsense for the British people. So far, the British ways of hidden the diamond history is working and the KOH-I-NOOR is probably safer in the tower of London rather than in India.

today, India still suffer from the British Colonization, they blame the British empire for destroying their economy. In March 17, 2017 an interview with Shashi Tharoor who is the author of Inglorious Empire: What The British Did To India, talks about Britain’s Colonial Legacy and how it is interpreted.