The Indian prince who was forced to give up the Koh-i-Noor Diamond to the British

Anita Durairaj
Painting of Duleep Singh by George Duncan BeecheyPublic Domain Image

With the ascension of King Charles III to the throne of the United Kingdom, people are taking a fresher look at the monarchy and its age-old traditions and controversies.

One example of this is the controversy over the famous Koh-i-Noor Diamond. The Koh-i-Noor is one of the largest cut diamonds in the world at 105.6 carats. It is currently a part of the British Crown Jewels and it is set on a crown that was originally made for the Queen Mother (grandmother of King Charles III).

The origin of the Koh-i-Noor diamond is the Kollur Mine in India. The diamond was first possessed by Indian and Mughal kings before it became a part of the British Crown Jewels in the 1800s.

The gem passed from ruler to ruler before it landed in the hands of the British. However, it was the manner in which it passed to the British Crown that draws controversy.

As the Koh-i-Noor was one of the largest diamonds discovered, it was considered to be the richest and most costly gem. For the British, getting their hands on the gem was necessary as it was a symbol of prestige and power.

The last Indian owner of the Koh-i-Noor was a young boy king, Duleep Singh. Singh became known as the last king of India's Sikh Empire. He came to power at the age of five in 1843. As he was very young, his mother ruled on his behalf.

According to the Smithsonian magazine, his mother was imprisoned by the British in 1849, and the boy was forced to sign a legal document giving away the Koh-i-Noor diamond and all claim to sovereignty when he was just 10. The diamond then passed to Queen Victoria and has successively been used as jewelry by all British monarchs including the current generation.

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Trained with a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Cincinnati, I write unique and interesting articles focused on science, history, and current events.


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