One of the esteemed monarchs of Britain, Queen Mary of Teck, who ruled from 1867 to 1915, ordered a commission to probe into the origin of her Imperial Jewels. A forty-six-page archive by ‘The Guardian’ revealed the scale and extent of loot perpetrated by the British colonial forces during their rule in India.
The Guardian found a journal that recorded the visit of then British Governor General George and sister Fanny Eden to Lahore (capital of the Sikh Empire) in 1837. The duo met Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the father of the then-ruling king Sher Singh.
One such precious item includes a golden girdle used by the ruler of the Sikh Empire, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, to adorn his horses. It was embellished with eighteen large emeralds.
According to Eden, the Maharaja himself put on limited jewels, but his entourage was equipped with several precious systems.
“He puts his very finest jewels on his horses and the splendour of the harness and housing surpasses anything you can imagine,” she wrote.
In her diary, she said, “If we ever plunder this kingdom, I shall directly go to their stables”.
The English East India Company conquered Punjab. As a part of the loot, they snatched the world-famous Kohinoor Diamond and golden girdle.
On May 26, 2023, the historic Kohinoor Diamond will be put up for display as a symbol of conquest in the Tower of London. The new exhibition, which has courted controversy since its announcement, will reportedly explore the diamond’s history and origin in utmost detail.
During the exhibition, the colonial past of the 105.6-carat diamond will be explained as how it was taken away from England in 1849. It was in the possession of Mughals, Afghans, Iranian Shahs, and Sikh rulers before it was looted by Britain.
This diamond is part of Crown Jewels and was originally unearthed in central-south India. The East India Company seized the Kohinoor and handed it over to Queen Victoria.
The diamond was recut in 1852 by the royal jeweller Garrad of London to improve its brilliance. The story of the Kohinoor Diamond will be retold at the event through a short film and a combination of projects and objects.
The event comes at a time when King Charles and his Queen Consort Camilla are set to be crowned in Westminster Abbey in May 2023. The keeper of the Jewel House, Andrew Jackson, said that the exhibition would provide visitors with a richer understanding of the jewels’ collection.
Apart from the Kohinoor, the British also seized Timur Ruby, which is a short necklace with four large spinal rubies. It was passed to several Persian and Mughal Rulers at different times and was ultimately sent to Queen Victoria from India.
In 1969, Queen Elizabeth II was spotted handling the Timur Ruby in a BBC documentary titled ‘Royal Family’.