On Tuesday, the Guardian published an editorial about the Koh-i-Noor Diamond, a gem mined on the Indian subcontinent that is now set in the British queen consort’s crown. Because the diamond was taken under dubious circumstances in the nineteenth century from its Indian owners, there are frequent calls for it to be repatriated.
Some have dismissed this as ridiculous; British historian Andrew Roberts even actually claimed that the British deserve to keep the stone as a mark of “grateful recognition” for the country’s colonial rule over India.
The Guardian editorial, written by Anita Anand, takes another position: the British don’t really deserve to keep the diamond, because the way they initially took possession of it was absolutely awful, but in the end, it should stay in Britain.
Why? Because the process of deciding who would rightfully deserve to have it would be a quagmire. Anand’s article lays out the history of its last owner, Duleep Singh, and the reasons why deciding who should have it would be, as she puts it, “too messy.” The fact that the stone was significantly recut by the Brits, she adds, also means that it is materially changed from the diamond that belonged to Duleep Singh and his family.