Delhi – It is the best known and most controversial jewel in the Tower of London, but virtually everything known about the Koh-i-noor diamond’s history may be wrong, according to a new book.
Said to be 5,000 years old, and to bear a curse that afflicts any man – but not woman – who wears it, the jewel was surrendered to the East India Company by Duleep Singh, a boy maharajah, in 1849.
India has felt the sting of its removal ever since, with a collection of Bollywood stars and businessmen pressing the UK government in 2015 to return the “stolen” jewel, on the same legal basis as art seized by the Nazis during the second world war.
Successive British prime ministers have stared down India’s 70-year standing request, but a new study by authors William Dalrymple and Anita Anand finds that even Queen Victoria was “racked with guilt” about the way the diamond was acquired.
The monarch’s doomed relationship with Singh, the 10-year-old maharajah whose kingdom the British seized, is one of the more memorable dramas to be have played out in the glint of the 105-carat diamond, recounted in the book Koh-i-Noor, released in the UK on Thursday.
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