Queen Elizabeth’s death conjured several different reactions depending on where you live in the world. For those in the U.K., it’s a sad moment where a constant many knew for their entire lives is now gone for good. But for others, they’re not as upset that she’s passed on and are quick to discuss another aspect of her rule.
According to VICE, former colonies of the British Empire are seeking their $400 million diamond back, hoping for their removal from the crown jewels. Not long after her death, the word Koh-i-noor started to trend on social media. The name belongs to a massive 105.6-carat diamond that is known as the “Mountain of Light” in English and is set in the Crown of the Queen Mother, part of the Crown Jewels.
Many from Queen Elizabeth’s former colonies are not mourning her death. Instead, they demand the return of one of the crown jewels.https://t.co/YpqbKGmrNx
— VICE World News (@VICEWorldNews) September 9, 2022
The diamond came into possession of the British Royal Family under the rule of Queen Victoria amid the annexation of Punjab in 1849. The stone first arrived in the U.K. under Victoria, who wore it as a brooch until her deal in 1901. The diamond was then set in the Crown of Queen Alexandra, then the Crown of Queen Mary and finally the crown of Queen Elizabeth, later known as the Queen Mother in 1937. Today it is on display in the jewel house at the Tower of London, with India, Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan all claiming ownership and demanding its return dating back to 1947.
This view landed some mainstream coverage here in the United States due to The View. Co-host Sunny Hostin didn’t hold back while discussing Queen Elizabeth the day after her death, blasting the monarch and The Royal Family for holding crowns filled with jewels “pillaged from India and Africa.”
“I think though we can mourn the Queen and not the empire. Because if you really think about what the monarchy was built on, it was built on the backs of black and brown people,” Hostin said. “And now what you’re seeing, at least in the Black communities that I’m a part of, they want reparation. It was a thieving, raping, genocidal empire.”
Hostin also defended Uju Anya, a Carnegie Mellon University professor who was born in Nigeria and faced the brunt of colonialism’s ugly side. “I am a child and sibling of survivors of genocide,” the professor added on social media. “I was born in the immediate aftermath of this genocide, which was directly supported and facilitated by the British government then headed by the monarch Queen Elizabeth II.”
Queen Elizabeth II owns the largest clear cut diamond in the world Known as ‘The Great Star of Africa’ the 530 carats gem was mined in South Africa back in 1905. It was stolen from South Africa. It has an estimated worth of $400 million. pic.twitter.com/HesTmGTv4d
— Africa Archives ™ (@Africa_Archives) September 8, 2022
Anya was highly criticized for her initial tweet that wished Elizabeth’s final moments to be “excruciating.” Many criticized the professor, including Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who also reportedly reached out to Carnegie Mellon to pressure the institution to punish Anya.
The issue of the Crown Jewels and the history of British colonialism was always poised to be major after the queen’s death. While seeking the return of the stones is just one example, nations are also seeking their property to be returned from museums, others are looking to drop the monarchy, and a few Caribbean nations are already talking about reparations. Hard to deny the global impact that Elizabeth’s death has had.