Ushna Shah questions whether Lahore Diamond showcased at King Charles’ coronation would have been protected in Pakistan

Ushna Shah questions whether Lahore Diamond showcased at King Charles’ coronation would have been protected in Pakistan

The diamond necklace worn by Queen Camilla was originally part of the Lahore treasures.
09 May, 2023

At the coronation ceremony of King Charles III, one thing that gained the attention of desis all over the subcontinent was the dazzling diamond jewel Queen Camilla wore. The breathtaking necklace features the Lahore Diamond and was once part of Lahore’s treasures. Many people were upset seeing the monarch’s wife wearing jewels that originally belonged to Pakistan, but actor Ushna Shah disagreed.

In a tweet, she questioned the safety of “stolen jewels” if they would have remained in the subcontinent. “A sad reality in my opinion: Had all the stolen jewels remained in the subcontinent, especially on our side, would they really have remained the property of the state and protected in a museum?” she asked.

“At least this way we get to have another reason to wag our fingers at the colonisers whilst getting to see our heritage in all its glory..on TV…on…them. Had they not colonised us in the first place, perhaps these treasures would have remained safe and intact but that’s another conversation,” she theorised.

In 1851, the Lahore Diamond was ‘presented’ to Queen Victoria after British colonisers gained control of the area in 1849. It then became part of Queen Victoria’s collection of jewellery, according to the Royal Collection Trust. Of course, the term ‘presented’ is highly debatable.

The diamond necklace — comprising a total of 26 diamonds, including a 22.48-carat pendant — has been passed down through generations of the British Royal family. The Independent reported that this exquisite piece of jewellery has also been worn during coronations in 1902, 1911, 1937, and 1953.

Queen Camilla wore matching diamond earrings that were once the side stones in the Indian setting of the Koh-i-Noor, one of the largest cut diamonds in the world, which was taken from India by the East India Company during the colonial era and once again presented to Queen Victoria. Pakistan, part of British-ruled India, and Afghanistan have also claimed ownership of it since Partition in 1947.

The argument put forward by many desis is that these jewels should be returned to the subcontinent but Shah’s point is interesting — even if we had it, would we preserve it and ensure it stays the property of the government?