The world’s largest apple, the Koh-i-Noor, was named after Queen II. After Elizabeth’s death, she is at the center of new controversy. Despite being an undeniably stunning and uniquely rare diamond, this egg-sized stone has become for some a powerful symbol of bloodshed, stolen history and the horrors of colonialism.
The 105.6-carat diamond currently sits at the center of Queen Elizabeth’s crown alongside 2,800 other smaller diamonds. This crown is Queen II. It belonged to Elizabeth’s mother, and in 1937 her husband, King VI. It was made for the coronation where George stood next to him.
This crown is Queen II. It was never worn by Elizabeth (in public, at least), and neither was the tiara on her coffin on Monday. However, due to being part of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom, Queen II. It belonged to Elizabeth.
After the Queen’s death earlier this month, disputes over the ownership of the Koh-i-Noor have reignited. According to tradition, the Queen Mother’s crown and colossal diamond will be inherited by King Charles III’s wife, Queen (Queen Consort) Camilla, and she is expected to wear it for her coronation.
But not everyone believes this is fair. Over the years, India, Pakistan, and even the Taliban in Afghanistan have claimed ownership of the diamond. Now, after the Queen’s death, many people from the Indian subcontinent are asking for the diamond to be returned to their homeland.
The mysterious history of Koh-i-Noor
The history of Koh-i-Noor is full of mystery and legend, but we do know that it was probably first unearthed in what we now call India. Some think the diamond is mentioned in Sanskrit and Mesopotamian texts as early as 3200 BC, but this has not been proven.
There is also a Hindu belief that even the gods are mesmerized by their beauty. This story continues, “only God or a woman can wear it with impunity.” It is said that any man who wears it will experience a lifetime of bad luck.
Most scholars agree that the diamond was in the hands of Alauddin Khalji, emperor of the Khalji dynasty, who ruled the Delhi Sultanate in the Indian subcontinent until 1304. He is thought to have obtained the diamond during his invasion of the south Indian kingdoms in previous years.
The oldest verifiable source of the diamond comes from Shah Jahan of the Mughal Empire in India. Records of that time show that the emperor ordered the construction of the “Peacock Throne” decorated with numerous precious stones, including the Koh-i-Noor, in the early 17th century.
In the 1730s, Northern India was occupied by the army of Emperor Nadir Shah, the Shah of Iran. Nadir Shah is said to have plundered most of the Mughal Empire’s wealth, including the imperial Peacock Throne and Koh-i-Noor. Its diamond is known as Koh-i-Noor, which means “Mountain of Light” in Persian.
Years after Nadir Shah dies and his empire collapses, his grandson gives the apple to Ahmad Shah Durrani, the founder of the Afghan Empire, to gain much-needed support. When his grandson Shuja Shah Durrani later fled to India, he was forced to deliver the stone to the Sikh ruler Ranjit Singh. Around this time, the Koh-i-Noor is thought to have been worn as a luminous amulet attached to his biceps.
In 1849, the British East India Company wins the Second Anglo-Sikh War, and along with the Kingdom of Punjab, the large diamond falls under British control. After a grueling journey, it is presented to Queen Victoria at Buckingham Palace in 1850.
Since then, the British dynasties have owned the diamond. At this time, if you want to see the stone with your own eyes, you can go to the Tower of London and see the jeweled crown through a glass. But let’s also say it will cost you around £30.