Million people will take the royal scepter in the hands of King Charles III on Saturday. see what he receives during the coronation ceremony. In South Africa, some TV viewers will take a closer look and look out for the pear-shaped large diamond on the scepter, the “Star of Africa” or “Great Star of Africa”.
Shortly before the big event in London, calls for the return of the top-class diamond, the largest cut diamond in the world, were heard again. “The diamond has to come to South Africa. It has to be a sign of our pride, heritage and culture,” Mothusi Kamanga, a lawyer and activist in Johannesburg, told Reuters.
An online petition for the return of the diamond has received around 8,000 signatures so far. The demands were raised in September 2022 after the death of Queen Elizabeth II, but they caused a stir, especially outside of South Africa.
The 530-carat “Star of Africa” comes from the equally famous 3106-carat Cullinan diamond, the largest rough diamond ever found. According to the Cape Town Diamond Museum, it was discovered in 1905 at a mine site in what was then the British colony of Transvaal.
It was named after the mine’s owner, Sir Thomas Cullinan. The then Prime Minister of the Transvaal, Louis Botha, persuaded the government to buy the diamond for about a million dollars and presented it to Britain’s King Edward VII as thanks for the Transvaal having its own constitution. To prevent theft, the diamond was rumored to have been transported on a ship with security guards. In fact, only one copy was on board, while the original stone was simply mailed to England.
A company in Amsterdam undertook the difficult task of cutting, with the cutters examining the nearly flawless giant crystal for six months before determining how it should be divided. He found nine large and 96 smaller stones. The “Star of Africa” or “Cullinan I” was incorporated into the scepter of King Edward VII, the second largest, “Cullinan II”, adorns the state crown. Normally, the scepter and crown reside with the other crown jewels in the Tower of London. From the point of view of the supporters of the online petition, however, the diamonds should be exhibited in a museum in South Africa.
Before the coronation on Saturday, representatives of indigenous groups from other former British colonies also called on the British king to apologize for “centuries of racism” and the “legacy of genocide”. In a letter, representatives from twelve Commonwealth countries demanded financial compensation and the return of stolen cultural treasures.
The letter was signed by groups from Australia, several Caribbean countries, Canada, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. Charles III has recently stepped up efforts to work with representatives of indigenous groups, admitting that the royal family “needs to recognize the injustices that have marked our past”. The signers of the letter are also asking for a formal apology.
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