The world’s largest diamond, discovered in South Africa in 1905, was donated to the British monarchy two years later and has been in her possession ever since.
Some South Africans are calling on the UK to return the world’s largest diamond, known as the Star of Africa, set in the royal scepter that King Charles III will hold at his coronation on Saturday.
The diamond, which weighs 530 carats, was discovered in South Africa in 1905 and given to the British monarchy two years later by the colonial government in the country then under British rule.
Now, amid a global conversation about returning works of art and artifacts looted during colonial times, some South Africans are calling for the diamond to be returned.
“The diamond must come to South Africa. It should be a sign of our pride, heritage and culture,” said Mothusi Kamanga, a lawyer and activist in Johannesburg who has promoted an online petition, which has collected about 8,000 signatures, to return the diamond.
“I think the African people in general are starting to realize that decolonizing is not just about giving people certain freedoms, but also about taking back what has been dispossessed from us.”
Officially known as Cullinan I, the diamond in the scepter was cut from the Cullinan diamond, a 3100-carat stone mined near Pretoria.
A smaller diamond cut from the same stone, known as Cullinan II, is set in the Imperial State Crown worn by British monarchs on ceremonial occasions. Together with the Scepter, it is kept with the other Crown Jewels in the Tower of London.
A replica of the entire Cullinan Diamond, which is about the size of a man’s fist, is on display at the Cape Town Diamond Museum.
“I think it should be brought back home because they ended up taking it from us while oppressing us,” said Johannesburg resident Mohamed Abdullahi.
Others said they didn’t feel strongly about it.
“I don’t think it matters anymore. Things have changed, we are evolving,” said local resident Dieketseng Nzhadzhaba. “What used to matter to them to be superior…we don’t care anymore.”