- Elginism - http://www.elginism.com -

British Prime Minister’s statements on the Koh-i-Noor diamond

More coverage of David Cameron’s comments [1] about why he felt that the Koh-i-Noor diamond should not be returned to India.

NDTV [2]

British PM David Cameron speaks to NDTV: Full transcript
NDTV Correspondent, Updated: July 29, 2010 14:46 IST

New Delhi: British Prime Minister David Cameron who is on a visit to India, spoke about UK’s relation with Pakistan, WikiLeaks, British economy and Kate Moss among others in an exclusive interview to NDTV’s Dr Prannoy Roy.

Here is the full transcript of the interview:


Prannoy Roy: The last question all the twitters have told me to ask you… the Kohinoor diamond are you going to return that ever?

David Cameron: That is a question I have been never been asked before… what tends to happen with these questions is that if you say yes to one, then you would suddenly find the British museum empty and I know there is a great argument about the original provinence of the Kohinoor diamonds, I am afraid to say it’s going to stay where it’s put.

Prannoy Roy: Well but we are going to keep trying. Thank you so much for spending time with us.

Times of India [3]

Cameron asked to discuss Kohinoor return to India
IANS, Jul 24, 2010, 11.53am IST

LONDON: Keith Vaz, the Indian-origin British MP, wants the Kohinoor diamond to be returned to India and asks Prime Minister David Cameron to discuss the issue of its return during his visit to India next week.

Vaz said in a statement: “I believe that this is the perfect opportunity for the prime minister to discuss the issue of the Kohinoor. It would be very fitting for the Kohinoor to return to the country in which it was mined so soon after the diamond jubilee of the Indian republic and 161 years after its removal from India.”

Vaz said the return of the treasure to India would give meaning to the new coalition government’s desire to enter into a new era of partnership with India. “This will certainly convey a new age of Indo-British relations. The prime minister will certainly win the hearts of all Indians if he is prepared to discuss the display of the Kohinoor in India itself, and possibly even its permanent return.”

The diamond was taken to England in 1849 following the defeat of the ruler of the Punjab region, Duleep Singh, and the annexation of the Punjab. As part of the Treaty of Lahore settlement, the gem was surrendered to Queen Victoria. It was last worn in public by the late Queen Mother and last seen set inside the Maltese Cross on the crown placed on top of the coffin at her funeral.

Since Indian independence, there have been several requests for the return of the gem to what all Indians consider its home in India. The latest was the demand made by the Archaeological Survey of India last month. It is also planning to join a campaign with the support of UNESCO and other countries to regain lost artefacts and treasures.

However, the British government rejected this demand saying that the diamond had been “legitimately acquired”. It cited the British Museum Act 1963 to assert that it prevents the government from giving back the diamond.

BBC News [4]

29 July 2010 Last updated at 11:39
Koh-i-Noor diamond ‘staying put’ in UK says Cameron

David Cameron has rejected calls for the famous Koh-i-Noor diamond, which has been part of the Crown Jewels for 150 years, to be returned to India.

The diamond, which was mined in India, was seized by the East India Company in 1849 and presented to Queen Victoria.

Indian politicians have long urged the 105-carat treasure’s return.

But asked about the issue during his trip to India, Mr Cameron said such a move would set an unworkable precedent and it was “staying put”.

The diamond fell into British hands as part of the Treaty of Lahore, which saw Britain take control of Punjab.

It was last worn by the late Queen Mother and was displayed on top of her crown when her coffin lay in state after her death in 2002.

Last year Tushar Gandhi, the great grandson of independence leader Mahatma Gandhi, said it should be returned as “atonement for the colonial past”.

But Mr Cameron – who is on a two-day visit to India – told the Indian TV channel NDTV this would not be happening.

“If you say yes to one you suddenly find the British Museum would be empty,” he said. “I think I am afraid to say, to disappoint all your viewers, it is going to have to stay put.”

Among other disputes over famous artefacts, Greece has for many years called for the return of the Elgin Marbles, removed from the Parthenon some 200 years ago and taken to London by the Earl of Elgin.

One expert on the Crown Jewels said, by definition, all diamonds produced before the mid-18th Century were of Indian origin since no other country mined them.
‘Cultural exchange’

But historian Dr Anna Keay told the BBC that since its creation, the diamond had had many different owners, being in Persian and Afghan as well as Indian hands.

“The crucial thing is this diamond has been in circulation certainly since the beginning of the 16th Century during which time it has been in the hands of whole sequence of different rulers,” told Radio 4’s Today programme.

“The question is to which point do you take it back.”

The historical case for repatriating the diamond to India was not particularly “sensible”, she said, and it was “very unlikely” to happen.

“Either you take the view that objects should stay in the country from which they artistically or geologically sprang.

“Or you say things, through the passage of time and circumstances, change hands and that is the nature of cultural exchange.

“In that case, it is very hard to see a convincing argument for the diamond to go back to India where it hasn’t been since the 1730s.”