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The World`s Deadliest Diamond!
Koh-i-Noor: The Hi story Of The World `s Most Infamous Diamond
by William Dalrymple and Anita Anand
(Bloomsbury £16.99)
The Koh-i-Noor diamond, which weighs 105 carats (or 21 grams), currently resides in the Queen Consort`s crown, kept under guard in the Tower of London.
The Queen Mother wore it to State Openings of Parliament during the reign of George VI, and its last public outing was upon the cushion on the coffin at her state funeral in 2002.
Its next wearer is likely to be ‘Queen` Camilla at the coronation of King Charles III. If the Duchess of Cornwall reads this book about its history, however, she may start to have misgivings.
Coronation gem: The Queen Mother wearing the Koh-i-Noor (circled) in 1937, with Princess Elizabeth 
‘The gem rained misfortune on unworthy mortal custodians,` we are told by William Dalrymple and Anita Anand.
On the very day it arrived in London in 1850, Queen Victoria was hit on the head by a would-be assassin and former prime minister Robert Peel was thrown from his horse — an accident that killed him.
The Koh-i-Noor, with its ‘short but irregular crystal tails`, got its name (meaning ‘mountain of light`) from its resemblance to ‘declivities falling from a Himalayan snow-peak`.
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Quite where the Koh-i-Noor came from nobody knows — it may have been the eye of an idol in a temple in southern India, stolen by marauding Turks. But we do know it was at the centre of centuries of bloody conquests as it bounced bewilderingly between rulers and despots.
By 500BC in Asia, diamonds were fashioned into rings — ‘gods were supposed to dwell in a particle of diamond` — and in the Indian royal courts, jewellery rather than clothing was the principal form of adornment. Princes and their concubines were covered in ‘a fabulous profusion of jewelled ornaments` as a conspicuous display of power.
Koh-i-Noor: The Hi story Of The World `s Most Infamous Diamond by William Dalrymple and Anita Anand
Dalrymple and Anand first find a mention of the Koh-i-Noor in 1547. It next turns up in the despatch of a British ambassador in 1616, who described the Mughal emperors as ‘laden with diamonds, rubies, pearls`.
Shah Jahan, builder of the Taj Mahal, acquired the jewel in 1656, and believed it made him ‘a sun king, almost a sun god`.
At the Red Fort in Agra he commissioned the Peacock Throne, ‘designed to resemble and evoke the fabled throne of Solomon`, which had a canopy studded with gems and held aloft on a column of emeralds. The Koh-i-Noor was set in the peacock`s crown and was guarded by eunuchs.
Jahan was imprisoned by his sons and died in captivity. His successors were variously murdered — one of them was first blinded with a hot needle, the father of another ruler was ‘forced off a precipice on his elephant` and wives and mothers were strangled.
Delhi was then invaded by Persians and, in 1739, the populace put to the sword. ‘It seemed as if it were raining blood, for the drains were streaming with it,` ran a report.
Nader Shah, the scourge of the Ottoman Empire, transported the Mughal treasury to Tehran in a caravan consisting of 700 elephants, 4,000 camels and 12,000 horses. He`d received the Koh-i-Noor from the defeated Mughal emperor, Mohammud Shah, who wore it in his turban.
Nader Shah was the kind of despot who had his son blinded ‘and his eyes brought to him on a platter`. When he was assassinated, the Koh-i-Noor was spirited away to Kandahar. Nader Shah`s grandson had molten lead poured over his head to try to force revelation of its whereabouts.
The jewel next appeared in the possession of Ahmad Shah, who had a gangrenous ulcer on his face that ravaged his brain.
The Koh-i-Noor diamond, which weighs 105 carats (or 21 grams), currently resides in the Queen Consort`s crown, kept under guard in the Tower of London.
‘By 1772, maggots were dropping from the upper part of Ahmad Shah`s rotten nose into his mouth and food as he ate.` He ingeniously hid the Koh-i-Noor from his enemies in a crack in the wall.
Examining poems, illuminated manuscripts and sculpted friezes, Dalrymple and Anand next spot the jewel on a bracelet in Kabul. Was it taken there by an Afghan bodyguard or a harem attendant? New owner Maharaja Ranjit Singh ‘loved the Koh-i-Noor with a rare passion and wore it on all public occasions`.
By this stage, the British were establishing themselves in India. When Ranjit died, English diplomats were appalled to have to witness the ‘abominable ceremony` of suttee, in which his wives, ‘devoted to their husband in life and beyond`, were compelled to incinerate themselves on his cremation pyre.
As the cruelties mount up — dismembering troublesome relatives and leaving them to bleed to death; protracted poisonings; so-called accidents with ‘a double-barrelled fowling-piece`; the plundering of people`s property — it is evident that the Koh-i-Noor was, quite simply, a spoil of war.
In fact, the jewel never peaceably changed hands. Within a few years of Ranjit`s death in 1839, three Maharajas who hoped to possess it were murdered.
Its next wearer is likely to be ‘Queen` Camilla at the coronation of King Charles III. If the Duchess of Cornwall reads this book about its history, however, she may start to have misgivings
Ten years later, on the British conquest of the Punjab, the Koh-i-Noor, as ‘the single most valuable object in India`, was handed to the Earl of Dalhousie, representing Queen Victoria. It was transported to England — though an outbreak of cholera on the ship put the vessel in danger of being forcibly sunk for quarantine purposes.
Once safely in England, it was the star item at the Great Exhibition in 1851. But the diamond was deemed disappointingly dull, so it was cut and polished by Garrard, the Crown jewellers — a process in which it lost 42 per cent of its original weight.
Queen Victoria wore it on a sash during a visit to Paris, ‘wordlessly conveying a sense of the power and reach of the British monarch`.
Today, as ‘a sort of historical emblem of conquest in India`, the presence of the diamond in London is contentious. If you have any issues concerning exactly where and how to use gameking2017.jewelsstardiamond, you can contact us at our webpage. India, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and even the Taliban have asked for its return, and it is now a ‘diplomatic grenade`.
When, however, James Callaghan was pestered by the prime minister of Pakistan in 1976, it is his response which remains masterly: ‘In the light of the confused past history of the Koh-i-Noor diamond, the clear British title to it [in the 1849 peace treaty with the Maharaja of Lahore, which concluded the Second Anglo-Sikh War], and the multiplicity of claims which would undoubtedly be made to it if its future were ever thought to be in doubt, I could not advise Her Majesty that it should be surrendered to any other country.`
In light of its poisoned chalice status, the Queen, we note, ‘is taking no chances` and has never personally worn the Koh-i-Noor.
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