Friday, August 10, 2012

Koh-i-Nur Diamond (Part 3): A Sad Ending

Queen Mother's Crown
Koh-i-Noor, front center Maltese cross
Photo Credit: Bizcovering
by Angela Magnotti Andrews

Having suffered a serious stroke during a visit to Paris, Duleep Singh wrote a repentant letter to the queen in hopes of being allowed to return to England. Though she convinced Parliament to grant his request, he was too ill to travel. He spent his final days in Paris, bitter and partially paralyzed.

He did secure a final meeting with the queen two years before he died. Upon her agreement to meet him at her hotel on the Riviera while she was on holiday, Duleep spent his entire time with her bitterly regaling all of his misfortune and woe. The queen was said to have been at least glad for the opportunity to forgive him, but she was clearly distressed by the meeting.

Especially in light of her affection for Duleep, as well as the events surrounding his death, the Koh-i-Noor diamond remained a source of both pride and guilt for Queen Victoria throughout her life. She chose to wear it for her son’s wedding in an unprecedented break from her self-induced mourning in 1879; however, she was known to avoid any sense of flaunting the jewel. She felt a deep sense of chagrin at conquering the Indian territories, and I’m sure her affection for Duleep played a role in her restraint in wearing the gem.

Although there have been campaigns lodged by the Sikhs for the return of the “Mountain of Light” to its country of origin, the Koh-i-Noor diamond remains a part of the British Crown Jewels and is kept in the Tower of London.

Start from the Beginning
1. Rappaport, Helen. Queen Victoria: A Biographical Companion. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2003.
2. All About Gemstones. "Diamond Mines of the World: India's Diamonds of Golconda." Accessed August 6, 2012.

*Clip-art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

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