Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Queen Camilla, Queen Consort, Queen Mary, Queen Mary's Crown, Queen Victoria, The Great Exhibition, The Koh-i-Noor Diamond
Today Buckingham Palace announced that Queen Camilla will wear the gold and silver crown once worn by Queen Mary at her Coronation in 1911 with King George V.
Generally a new Queen Consort will have a new crown made for her for her coronation. However, Her Majesty the Queen has opted to use Queen Mary’s crown instead and have it modified to reflect “the Consort’s individual style.”
By selecting Queen Mary’s crown it will be the first time
since the 18th century that a Queen Consort’s crown has been re-used. The last time this occurred was when Queen Caroline (born a Princess of Brandenburg-Ansbach) and consort of King George II of Great Britain wore the crown made for Mary of Modena, who was the consort of King James II-VII of England, Scotland and Ireland.
Queen Mary’s crown has eight arches around the crown and part of it’s modification four of the arches will be removed. The crown will also be reset with the famous Cullinan III, IV, and V diamonds that the Queen Elizabeth II often wore as brooches.
One rather large piece of jewelry that will be absent from the crown is the highly controversial Koh-i-Noor diamond. This large 105.6 carat diamond has multiple conflicting legends on the origin of the diamond.
However, in the words of the colonial administrator Theo Metcalfe, there is “very meagre and imperfect” evidence of the early history of the Koh-i-Noor before the 1740s, that can directly tie it to any ancient diamond.
There is no record of its original weight, but the earliest attested weight is 186 old carats (191 metric carats or 38.2 g). The first verifiable record of the diamond comes from a history by Muhammad Kazim Marvi of the 1740s Invasion of Northern India. Marvi notes that the Koh-i-Noor as being one of many stones on the Mughal Peacock Throne that Nader Shah looted from Delhi.
The diamond then changed hands between various empires in south and west Asia, until being given to Queen Victoria after the British East India Company’s annexation of the Punjab region in 1849, during the reign of the then 11-year-old Maharaja of the Sikh Empire Duleep Singh, who had previously possessed the stone.
Originally, the stone was of a similar cut to other Mughal-era diamonds, like the Daria-i-Noor, which are now in the Iranian Crown Jewels.
In 1851 the Koh-i-Noor went on display at the Great Exhibition in London, but the lackluster cut failed to impress viewers. Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, ordered it to be re-cut as an oval brilliant by Coster Diamonds.
Under the supervision of Prince Albert and the Duke of Wellington, and the technical direction of the queen’s mineralogist, James Tennant, the cutting took thirty-eight days.
Prince Albert spent a total of £8,000 on the operation, which reduced the weight of the diamond from 186 old carats (191 modern carats or 38.2 g) to its current 105.6 carats (21.12 g). The stone measures 3.6 cm (1.4 in) long, 3.2 cm (1.3 in) wide, and 1.3 cm (0.5 in) deep. Brilliant-cut diamonds usually have fifty-eight facets, but the Koh-i-Noor has eight additional “star” facets around the culet, making a total of sixty-six facets.
Since arriving in the UK, it has only been worn by female members of the Royal Family. Queen Victoria wore the stone in a brooch and a circlet. After she died in 1901, it was set in the Crown of Queen Alexandra, born a Princess of Denmark and the wife of King Edward VII of the United Kingdom.
The Koh-i-Noor was transferred to the Crown of Queen Mary in 1911, and finally to the Crown of Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother in 1937 for her coronation.
The Koh-i-Noor has long been a subject of diplomatic controversy, with India, Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan all demanding its return from the UK at various points.
Because of the quadripartite dispute over the diamond’s rightful ownership, there have been various compromises suggested to bring the dispute to an end. These include dividing the diamond into four, with a piece given to each of Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan, with the final piece retained by the British Crown.
Another suggestion is that the jewel be housed in a special museum at the Wagah border between India and Pakistan. However this suggestion does not cater to Afghan claims, nor the reality of current British possession. The British Government rejects these compromises, and has stated since the end of the British Raj that the status of the diamond is ‘non-negotiable’.
A spokesman for Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi recently said the jewel “brings back painful memories of the colonial past.”