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India vs. the Queen: Koh-i-Noor diamond may be stripped from Crown Jewels

Indians feel they have a watertight case, and Greek lawyers are interested to see how it will pan out as it could open the door to the return of the Parthenon Marbles

India is suing the queen for the 100-mln-pound diamond known as the Koh-i-Noor (Mountain of Light) that the Queen Mother wore during the Coronation of her husband and her daughter. The prized 105-carat jewel may be stripped from Britain’s Crown Jewels following legal proceedings started by Bollywood stars and businessmen.

Indian supporters of the repatriation of the Koh-i-Noor say it was one of the many artefacts that had been taken from India under dubious circumstances during the coloniztion of Indi. Bollywood star Bhumicka Singh says that to India, the Koh-i-Noor is more than just a stone, but “part of our history and culture”.

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On its part, the UK has rejected demands for the return of the stone presented to Queen Victoria in 1851 by the last ruler of the Sikhs Duleep Singh following the British annexe of the Punjab. The giving of the legendary gem is still considered a natural humilation.

There are many comparisons that can be drawn to this case and that of the Parthenon Marbles that Greece wants returned. The British lawyers working for the return of the Koh-i-Noor to India would base their case on the Holocaust Act that gives UK institutions that power to return stolen art. Arguments would be made that there was a “trespass to goods” in common law with claims that the British Government had stolen the diamond.

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The stone was first documented in 1304 and that has a legendary status on account of its history with ownership claims from Pakistan, India, Iran, even Afghanistan. Legend has it that it can only be owned “by God or a woman.” It is said that whoever wears it will become incredibly powerful but male owners would meet an unfortunate end.

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