A legal petition has been filed in a Pakistan court demanding the ‘return’ of the Koh-i-Noor (pictured above set in a crown worn by the Queen Mother), one of the world’s largest known diamonds and now one of the British Monarch’s Crown Jewels.
Britain obtained the world-famous 105-carat diamond from India in 1849 when the East India Company annexed the region of Punjab. Split between India and Pakistan in 1947’s Partition of India — the act by which India was granted independence from the British Empire — the lawyer behind the suit is arguing the jewel belongs to Pakistan as part of Punjab’s heritage, reports The Daily Mail.
Although legal commentators are doubtful the case filed in the eastern Pakistan city of Lahore will ever be heard, and even if it were it would be unlikely to succeed, it has a competing claim from India.
A pressure group backed by businessmen and Bollywood stars claims the Koh-i-Noor’s rightful home is there rather than on display in the Tower of London or in Pakistan. It reportedly instructed lawyers a few weeks ago to begin legal proceedings in London’s High Court for the return of the gem, claiming the huge diamond which was presented to Queen Victoria in 1850 is an integral part of India’s history and culture.
Queen Victoria had the diamond, along with another 2,000, mounted in a crown. It is that crown, previously worn by the late Queen Mother, which the Duchess of Cambridge will wear should Prince William become King.
The Pakistani petition, lodged by Jawaid Iqbal Jafree who claims to have written 786 letters to the Queen and Pakistani officials on the subject in the last 50 years, names Queen Elizabeth II as a respondent. He told Reuters the diamond was handed over “forcibly and under duress” by the local ruler, explaining in the claim:
“Her Majesty the Queen will rise in the highest public interest with facilitating honest disposal and transferring the possession of the Koh-i-Noor diamond which was illegally taken…
“Koh-i-Noor was not legitimately acquired. Grabbing and snatching it was a private, illegal act which is justified by no law.”
Mr. Jafree says that his 786 letters have never been acknowledged, save for one which the Queen’s Principle Private Secretary acknowledged.
Speaking to the Mail on Sunday newspaper about the Indian claim on the legendary diamond, historian Andrew Roberts said:
“Those involved in this ludicrous case should recognise that the British Crown Jewels is precisely the right place for the Koh-i-Noor diamond to reside, in grateful recognition for over three centuries of British involvement in India, which led to the modernisation, development, protection, agrarian advance, linguistic unification and ultimately the democratisation of the sub-continent.”