My next blog was supposed to be Part 2 of “Can an Object Make You Commit a Crime?” -– I know, I know. That will just have to wait because we had a coronation. A real coronation, you guys. I couldn’t resist writing about that, and I hope you’ll indulge me.
On May 6, we saw an air-conditioned Gold State Coach, Prince Harry in the third row, Princess Charlotte twining her mother. What we did not see was Camilla wearing a queen consort’s crown, the Queen Mother’s Crown. A first since 1757. Why, you demand to know. Because that headgear holds the Koh-i-Noor diamond. Yay! She wore Queen Mary’s Crown instead.
The 105-carat diamond’s path from excavation in today’s India to its current home in the Tower of London, as part of England’s crown jewels was violent, weaving through modern-day India, Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan. (Even the name signals its complicated lineage. Koh-i-Noor translates to ‘Mountain of Light’ in Persian.) So much bloodshed surrounded the jewel that it was said to curse any man who possessed it. In 1849 The Last Treaty of Lahore turned the Koh-i-Noor over to the British monarch – a woman. Hmm.
It was presented to Queen Victoria in 1850. The next year it was seen and admired by one-third of England at the Great Exhibition in London.
(If all this sounds familiar, you probably read The Moonstone, published in 1868. The fictional loot was a large diamond, which carried a curse. Or you may have seen one of the many movies based on the novel. England was the setting of the body of the novel, and the events span from June 1848 until November 1850, but the prologue and epilogue take place in colonial India.)
IRL, the UK gives several reasons to justify keeping the Koh-i-Noor. Not the least of which is the competing claims on it. In addition to India’s desire to have the Koh-i-Noor returned, there are other petitioners. Lahore, where the diamond was turned over, is now the capital of the province of Punjab in Pakistan. In August 1976 Pakistan’s prime minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, wrote to British Prime Minister James Callaghan asking for the return of the jewel. In 2000 the Taliban wrote to the Queen with a request that the jewel be returned to Afghanistan.
Though the diamond is no longer described as the largest ever discovered, it is both a lightning rod and a Rorschach test. I say “hip hip hooray” for the decision not to flaunt this image of colonialism.
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So interesting, Lane! I admit to being an Anglophile.
I know you are!
Yes, that was a savvy decision on Camilla’s part as someone many have mixed feelings about already. The crown she wore had four of its original arches removed, too. I didn’t realize before this that crowns had so many interchangeable parts? Recycling at its best?
As an Anglophile like Connie, I watched the entire thing (on DVR) with my husband asking questions about some of the traditions I was able to answer because I am a geek. I was only a toddler when Queen Elizabth II was crowned, so this felt like being a part of history.
Yes, it was history in the making, wasn’t it?
I wince every time I see a shamrock in the emblems.
I just sat through a lecture of coronation robes etc. Queen Consort Elizabeth didn’t have a shamrock on her emblem. Might have been George VI or Edward. One of the 20th century monarchs. She had the red hand of Ulster. I can live with that sort of.
It was definitely an interesting thing to watch and read about. I’m hoping I’ll come home with some coronation tchotchkes when I go next!
I watched it in a Tudor castle in England! So that was great, except that the people who built the castle were not thinking about Wifi. So every so often the station would switch to something showing Australia Survivor. But it was a lot of fun and we drank champagne.
I passed watching the coronation, although I find Lane’s post fascinating and I did watch the queen’s funeral. I’m just done with the Royals and monarchy and especially Camilla. When I visited western Ireland in Doolough and stopped at a monument for those lost in the famine at the hands of the British, the affront felt personal and made me understand the affront of colonization to so many nations.