Kohinoor: Why crown jewel is trending in India after Queen Elizabeth II’s death

Twitter users in India on Thursday set off the hashtag trend of the Kohinoor hours after the Buckingham Palace announced the history-defining moment of the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

Hundreds of Twitter users in India began raising the demand for return of the Kohinoor diamond — one of the world’s largest and most controversial — to the country.

The rare historical diamond is set in the crown of the British monarch which is on display in the Tower of London.

The return of the legendary gem stone appeared to remain the popular mood in the country as the hashtag Kohinoor continued to trend on Friday morning with more than 21,000 mentions on the microblogging site.

Kohinoor, also spelled as Koh-i-Noor, is a 105-carat gemstone which means “mountain of light” in Persian.

The diamond has been at the centre of political and legal controversy in India and dispute of ownership with claims just not from India but Pakistan as well.

It maintains a huge emotional connect with many Indians who believe that the diamond found in India in 14th century was “stolen” during the colonial regime.

The diamond was indeed passed through the hands of Rajput rulers, Mughal princes, Iranian warriors, Afghan rulers and Punjabi Maharajas before it ended in the crown of the British queen and found the longest home.

According to the UK Royal Palace, the Kohinoor was unearthed from Golconda mines in central southern India before it was handed to British monarchs in 1849.

It became the part of crown jewels of Queen Victoria along with hundreds of other gemstones that are said to have incalculable cultural, historical, and symbolic value and remain part of the royal collection.

The crown, which also features a purple velvet cap and ermine trim, was made in 1937 for Queen Elizabeth, consort of King George VI, to be worn on her husband’s coronation on 12 May 1937.

It is laden with 2,800 diamonds set into its platinum frame. The band comprises alternating clusters of diamonds forming crosses and rectangles, bordered by single rows of brilliant-cut diamonds.

In this file photo taken on 2 June, 1953 the Queen Elizabeth II poses on her Coronation day, in London (AFP via Getty Images)
In this file photo taken on 2 June, 1953 the Queen Elizabeth II poses on her Coronation day, in London (AFP via Getty Images)

Many believe the folklore that the Kohinoor carries a curse with its 750-year bloodstained history of murder, megalomania and treachery.

On Thursday, just as Buckingham Palace announced the tragic death of the queen, several people called on the royal family to use Britain’s longest serving monarch’s death as an opportunity to return the jewels.

“Journey of Kohinoor : From India to England. It should come back to its origin, the least UK can do towards the centuries of exploitation, opression, racism, slavery inflicted on people of the Indian subcontinent,” Twitter user Anushree said.

“Queen Elizabeth has died today... Can we get our #Kohinoor Diamond back, which was stolen by Britisher from #India. They created wealth on others death, famine, torchers & looting..” Vivek Singh, another user said.

Several people also demanded that prime minister Narendra Modi and president Droupadi Murmu get the Kohinoor back to India as the two leaders led the tribute to the Queen.

Mr Modi said: “Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will be remembered as a stalwart of our times. She provided inspiring leadership to her nation and people. She personified dignity and decency in public life. Pained by her demise. My thoughts are with her family and people of UK in this sad hour.”

In 2016, the diamond was at the centre of a court battle after an NGO filed a petition asking the court to direct the Indian government to bring back the diamond.

At that time the solicitor-general, representing India’s government, said the diamond was a “gift” to the East India company by the former rulers of Punjab in 184 and it was “neither stolen nor forcibly taken”.

However, the government took a U-turn later and the Indian ministry of culture “reiterated its resolve to make all possible efforts to bring back the Kohinoor Diamond in an amicable manner”.

For now, the famous Kohinoor-studded crown will be adorned by Prince Charles’ wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, who will become Queen Consort when her husband is King.