The death of Queen Elizabeth II has reignited calls for the British royal family to return some of the world’s most expensive jewels back to their countries of origin.

When Britain expanded its empire and acquired colonies, valuable items were often taken back to Britain.

Some of these included diamonds which were later incorporated into the Crown Jewels. 

One of those diamonds is the Kohinoor (also spelt Koh-i-Noor) which is considered the most expensive diamond in the world, with an estimated value of up to NZD$600 million.

It’s currently the centrepiece of the Queen Mother’s crown, but many argue that’s not where it belongs.

It’s not entirely clear where the diamond is originally from, but royal historical experts suggest a region in central southern India. 

While the British say the diamond was surrendered to them after they colonised Punjab, a region in northern India in 1850, many Indians say it was stolen.  

Originally worn as a brooch by Queen Victoria, the diamond now sits in the centre of  the Crown of the Queen Mother that was worn by Queen Elizabeth II and will soon supposedly be worn by Camilla, the Queen Consort.

The diamond has been a cause of tension between Britain and India for some time.

India first demanded the return of Kohinoor after their independence was granted in 1947. They requested again in 1953, the year of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation.

The British Government has consistently rejected the claims. 

In 2010, David Cameron, then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, visited India and said that if they were to accept India’s request and return the Kohinoor, then “the British Museum would soon be empty”.

But the Kohinoor isn’t the only royal jewel that’s being claimed as stolen.

There are calls from South Africa for the royal family to return the Great Star of Africa, also known as Cullinan I, which now sits on top of the Sovereign's Sceptre.

The sceptre was used at Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation and will soon be used at King Charles III’s coronation. v

The Great Star of Africa is the world’s largest clear-cut diamond and was originally discovered in 1905 in South Africa when the British ruled over the country. 

The Great Star of Africa is just one part of a much larger Cullian diamond which was cut into nine major stones and 96 smaller ones after its discovery.

One of the other major stones, which is also known as the Second Star of Africa or Cullinan II, sits on the front band of the Imperial State Crown.  

Almost 7000 people have signed a petition asking for the Great Star of Africa to be returned to its country of origin and displayed in a South African museum.

The Palace hasn’t made any formal comment on the calls for the jewels to be returned. 

Since the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, many have seen the coronation of King Charles III as a good opportunity for the royal family to address the issue.

And as more Commonwealth countries consider the move to become a republic, seeing the Palace acknowledge the origin of some of the royal jewels is something that could potentially happen in the future.

Historians say that although there is no legal obligation to return the diamonds, the moral case is strong.

“The very fact that an Indian artefact is sitting in the tower of London, in the Queen mother’s tiara, a place where it emphatically does not belong, is a reminder of how it got there,” Sashi Tharoor, Indian Parliament Member, told CNN.

“I think in a sense, it’s a criminal advertising the proceeds of his crime.”

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