The nearing coronation of King Charles III has reignited discussions concerning the Cullinan diamonds, particularly the “Star of Africa” housed in the British crown jewels.
These diamonds were excavated in South Africa in 1905 and subsequently gifted to King Edward VII. The largest cut, known as the “Star of Africa” or “First Star of Africa,” is housed in the Sovereign’s Scepter with Cross, while other cuts are placed in the Imperial State Crown and other royal items.
Call for Return
A petition spearheaded by Johannesburg lawyer and activist, Mothusi Kamanga, has amassed over 8,000 signatures.
The petition urges King Charles III to repatriate the Cullinan diamonds to South Africa, underlining their cultural and historical significance to the nation. Kamanga expressed, “The diamond needs to come to South Africa. It needs to be a sign of our pride, our heritage and our culture,” further elaborating on the broader African sentiment towards reclaiming expropriated cultural asset.
Historical examination suggests that the diamond’s donation to King Edward VII was made during British colonial rule, stirring debates about the legitimacy of the transfer. The gesture aimed to foster better relations between the British Empire and local colonial rulers following the Second Boer War, yet some historians posit that the diamond was never rightfully transferred.
The call for repatriation mirrors global pleas for the return of colonial-era artifacts, resonating with India’s request for the return of the Koh-i-Noor diamond.
This underscores complex dialogues concerning colonial history, rightful ownership, and addressing past injustices.
The South African government has not yet formalised a stance regarding the return of the diamonds, although the topic has resurfaced post Queen Elizabeth II’s passing.