For ex-colonisers, those diamonds are, finally, not forever


A great rethink on repatriation of ill-gained artefacts is underway in Britain, France, Germany …

Europe’s former colonial powers are trying desperately to shed the burden of history. France’s Emmanuel Macron has been visiting four African countries with a promise of “deep humility” towards the continent. In Britain, Buckingham Palace sidestepped a diplomatic clash with India by announcing that King Charles III’s wife, Camilla would not wear the Kohinoor diamond at the May 6 coronation.

But the baggage of the past remains unwieldy. New questions have arisen over the baubles that will feature in the royal ceremony. These gems will be from the Cullinan, the world’s largest diamond, which was mined from South Africa in 1905 and gifted to Charles’s great-great-grandfather King Edward VII. Camilla’s crown will have three substantial chunks from the Cullinan, while the sceptre Charles is set to receive during the coronation contains another large hunk from it — the 530-carat Star of Africa.

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