the sentinel

Kohinoor: From Alauddin Khilji to Camilla, famous owners of magnificent diamond

Sep 12, 2022
Alauddin Khilji
The legend has it that Kohinoor was mined once upon a time at the Kollur Mine (in present-day Andhra Pradesh), and Babur, the founder of the Mughal Empire, wrote about it in his diary. He stated that it was Alauddin Khilji who acquired it when he invaded southern India at the beginning of the 14th century and looted it from the Kakatiyas. He was an emperor of the Khilji dynasty that ruled the Delhi Sultanate and successfully fended off several Mongol invasions of India
In 1526, Babur received it as a tribute for his conquest of Delhi and Agra at the Battle of Panipat. Babur defeated Ibrahim Lodi, Sultan of Delhi, at the First Battle of Panipat in 1526 and founded the Mughal Empire. However, the origin of Kohinoor cannot be verified to date, and several theories exist about it.
Shah Jahan
When Shah Jahan became the Mughal Emperor, he decided to use many of the jewels in his treasury to make the ornate Peacock Throne in 1635. Shah Jahan was the fifth emperor of the Mughal Empire, reigning from January 1628 until July 1658. Under his leadership, the Mughals reached the peak of their architectural achievements and cultural glory.
Nader Shah
In 1738, Nader Shah invaded India, massacred Delhi, and among the vast wealth that he looted, he also took with him the imperial Peacock Throne. And it was in the head of one of the peacocks on the throne that Nader Shah's biographer Muhammad Maharvi first records seeing the Kohinoor in the 1740s. After Nader Shah was killed and his empire collapsed in 1747, his grandson became the owner of Kohinoor.
Ahmad Shah Durrani
In 1751, Nader Shah's grandson gave Kohinoor to Ahmad Shah Durrani, also known as Ahmad Shah Abdali, founder of the Afghan Empire, in return for his support. One of his grandsons, Shuja Shah Durrani, wore a bracelet containing the diamond on the occasion of Mountstuart Elphinstone's visit to Peshawar in 1808. In 1809, Shah Shuja formed an alliance with the United Kingdom to help defend against a possible invasion of Afghanistan by Russia, but he was quickly overthrown. However, he fled with the diamond to Lahore, where Ranjit Singh, founder of the Sikh Empire, in return for his hospitality, took possession of it in 1813
Ranjit Singh
Ranjit Singh had the diamond examined by jewellers of Lahore for two days to ensure that Shuja had not tricked him, and after that, he gave Rs 1,25,000 to Shuja. The principal jewellers of Amritsar told him that the diamond is invaluable, and he then fixed the diamond in the front of his turban and paraded it on an elephant to enable his subjects to see the diamond. He used to wear it as an armlet during major festivals such as Diwali and Dussehra and took it with him during travel. He would exhibit it to prominent visitors, especially British officers.
Gulab Singh
After several twists and turns, Gulab Singh, Raja of Jammu, became the owner of the diamond, and held onto the stone until January 1841, when he presented it to Emperor Sher Singh in order to win his favour. The diamond changed hands multiple times in the next course of events and finally, the five-year-old Duleep Singh became the Sikh Emperor and became the new owner of the diamond.
Duleep Singh
On March 29, 1849, after the Second Anglo-Sikh War, the British East India Company annexed the Kingdom of Punjab and the Last Treaty of Lahore handed over the Kohinoor to Queen Victoria. The presentation of the Kohinoor by the East India Company to the Queen was the latest in a long history of transfers of the diamond as a coveted spoil of war. Duleep Singh moved to England in 1854 and spent the rest of his life in exile.
Queen Victoria
On July 3, 1850, the Kohinoor was formally presented to Queen Victoria at Buckingham Palace by the deputy chairman of the East India Company. A great exhibition was held at Hyde Park, London, in 1851 for the public to see the diamond. But the flawed and asymmetrical diamond failed to please viewers. The diamond was cut and polished, and a much lighter but more dazzling stone was mounted in a honeysuckle brooch and a circlet worn by the Queen, as then it was a part of her personal possession, and was not yet part of the Crown Jewels. Victoria wore it often, but she was reportedly uneasy about the way in which the diamond had been acquired.
Queen Alexandra
After Queen Victoria's death, the diamond was set in the Crown of Queen Alexandra, the wife of Edward VII, that was used to crown her at their coronation in 1902. Alexandra of Denmark was Queen consort of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Empress of India, from January 22, 1901, to May 6, 1910, as the wife of King-Emperor Edward VII.
Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother
In 1911, it was transferred to Queen Mary's Crown, and finally, in 1937, it was transferred to the Queen Mother's Crown. When Queen Mother died in 2002, the crown was placed on top of her coffin for the funeral
Earlier this year, Queen Elizabeth II, on the 70th anniversary of her accession to the British throne, announced her "sincere wish" that Charles succeeds her and becomes the King, and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, should become Queen Consort. Also, it was reported that Camilla will get to wear the Queen Mother's Kohinoor crown when Charles ascends the throne.