Jack Wolfsohn | Head Editor
September 16th, 2022
With the combination of Queen Elizabeth II’s recent passing, a new ruler coronate to the throne, and new authority over the largest collection of diamonds in the world, it’s safe to assume that the countries of origin would ask for their jewels back. But why do they want them back in the first place? They’ve been without them for so long anyway, should it even still matter?
The scepter (on the right) features the world’s largest diamond: The Cullinan I, also known as the Great Star of Africa. It was stolen from South Africa in 1905. After inspection by King Edward VII, he concluded that the diamond was too big to be added to any piece of jewelry and demanded to have it cut in half so it could be wearable. This means that the largest diamond in the world is actually only half of its original size. Currently, South Africa is only asking for half of their diamond to be returned.
The Queen Mother’s Crown (on the left) features the Koh-i-Noor diamond, mined in India thousands of years ago and then stolen in the 1840s. During the annexation of Punjab (former Punjabi), the king of Punjabi’s mother was imprisoned by the East India Trading company and then the king was forced to sign the Treaty of Lahore, annexing Punjab, along with giving away the Koh-i-Noor diamond. So the king loses his country and a diamond that’s been in India for thousands of years with massive cultural and historical significance. However, this king was an elderly man or even an adult—he was 10 years old. Britain stole from a little boy and now proudly shows off the evidence. Honestly, how are they not embarrassed?
“They don’t have to give back all of the jewels that are a part of their collection, especially if they have large historical significance to Britain, rather than just keeping them because they think they deserve them,” San Clemente High School senior Christian McCleary said.
That sounds like a good compromise in my opinion. For example, the St. Edward’s Sapphire that sits atop the imperial state crown was used in the coronation of St. Edward back in 1042. A gem that’s been in the British royal family for a thousand years. However, as with all British-owned diamonds, none were actually found in Britain. This one is actually from Sri Lanka. There’s no historical evidence to suggest the St. Edward’s diamond was stolen from Sri Lanka because it was 1000 years ago but it wouldn’t be unthinkable for Britain looking at their track record. Furthermore, it seems quite difficult to give some back but not all. The solution is not to give none back because of the difficulty, it’s to give as much as possible back. If all these jewels really were gifts like the royal family says, then the countries they’re from won’t ask for them back.
Also, the large clear diamond pictured above is the Cullinan II, it’s the smaller half of the original Cullinan diamond from South Africa. And the red ruby in the middle— also called the Black Prince’s ruby—is from Afghanistan.
“It would be good for the jewels to be returned, but it won’t change the decades of harm that imperialism caused the 3rd world,” senior Trevor Novak said.
It’s unfortunate that there’s not a lot that can be done to remedy the crimes against humanity committed by western imperialist nations, but returning their culturally significant diamonds and jewels would be a nice start. What needs to be addressed first and foremost is the fact that the third world is not poor in resources. There would be no reason for western capitalist countries to fund coups in the global south or Africa if these were such poor areas. The third world is purposefully kept unstable, it ensures there’s cheap and desperate labor all the time. To quote Michael Parenti, “The third world is not underdeveloped, it’s over-exploited.”