India Moves to Demand from UK the Return of Disputed Diamond in Queen’s Crown
India is set to pressure the UK to hand over thousands of treasures it claims were looted during the centuries of colonial occupation.
The diplomatic effort to reclaim the artefacts centres on the Koh-i-Noor diamond, one of the largest cut diamonds in the world. The Koh-i- has been in the British royal family’s crown jewels since 1849.
India’s “reckoning with the past” would be the largest repatriation attempt the UK has faced yet, the Telegraph reported – dwarfing claims made by the Greek government for the Elgin Marbles, held in the British Museum.
The push comes from the top of the Indian government and is one of the priorities of Narendra Modi, the country’s Prime Minister.
The efforts to get the treasures returned could even affect trade talks between the UK and India.
Govind Mohan, secretary for the Indian ministry of Culture, said that returning the treasures would be a big part of the country’s political agenda.
He said: “It is of huge importance to the government.
“The thrust of this effort to repatriate India’s artefacts comes from the personal commitment of prime minister Narendra Modi, who has made it a major priority.”
Mr Modi said in a speech this year: “We have a wonderful history of about 2,000 and 5,000 years. This cut-off (colonial rule) has done a lot of damage to us.
“After independence, we should have come out of this mentality but unfortunately it had gripped the nation like anything. They consider our historical pride to be a slave. I believe that unless we feel proud of our heritage and culture, we will not feel the urge to preserve it.
Indian officials believe that returning these treasures could help forge a stronger national identity.
India is not the only country that claims the Koh-i-Noor. The governments of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran have also said the diamond belongs to their respective countries.
Meanwhile, the UK claims that the diamond was obtained legally in an 1846 treaty.
The diamond is in the Queen Mother’s crown, which Queen Camilla did not wear at King Charles’ coronation to avoid upsetting India.