India says it still wants back British queen's crown jewel

Wed Apr 20, 2016 3:33am EDT
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NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India will make all possible efforts to get back the Koh-i-Noor Diamond from Britain despite comments by New Delhi's solicitor general that the priceless jewel should stay with the former colonial ruler, the government said on Tuesday.

India has repeatedly demanded that Britain return the 105-carat diamond, which was presented to Queen Victoria in 1850 and today sits on display as part of the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London.

India's solicitor general surprised many on Monday when he told the Supreme Court that his country should forgo its claims to the jewel because it was given to Britain as a gift by an Indian king in 1851, rather than stolen as many Indians today believe.

The government said on Tuesday his view did not represent its own and that it was yet to give its opinion to the court, which is hearing a case demanding the diamond be returned.

"The Government of India further reiterates its resolve to make all possible efforts to bring back the Koh-i-noor Diamond in an amicable manner," the ministry of culture said.

The ministry said the stone was a "valued piece of art with strong roots in our nation's history" and that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was determined to get it back.

A lawyer in India's neighbor Pakistan last year filed a court petition calling for the stone's return. India and Pakistan became two different countries with partition in 1947, when they became independent from Britain.

The Koh-i-Noor is set in the crown worn by Queen Elizabeth, the mother of the reigning monarch, at the coronation of her husband George VI in 1937, and was placed on her coffin at her funeral in 2002.

The Duchess of Cambridge, who last week visited India with her husband, Prince William, will wear the crown on official occasions when she becomes queen consort. William is second in line to the British throne.   Continued...

The Imperial State Crown is carried in for Britain's Queen Elizabeth during the annual State Opening of Parliament in London November 18, 2009. REUTERS/Toby Melville