The South African government has called on Britain’s royal family to return the world’s largest known clear-cut diamond. This diamond is currently set in the royal scepter that King Charles III will hold during his coronation on Saturday.
According to reports, the diamond, which weighs 530 carats, was discovered in South Africa in 1905 and presented to the British monarchy by the colonial government in the country, which was then under British rule.
In the midst of ongoing conversations about returning artwork and artifacts that were pillaged during colonial times, some South Africans are calling for the diamond to be brought back.
“The diamond needs to come to South Africa. It needs to be a sign of our pride, our heritage, and our culture,” said Mothusi Kamanga, a lawyer and activist in Johannesburg who has promoted an online petition, which has gathered about 8,000 signatures, for the diamond to be returned, The Reuters reported.
“I think generally the African people are starting to realise that to decolonise is not just to let people have certain freedoms, but it’s also to take back what has been expropriated from us.”
Known as Cullinan I, the diamond in the sceptre was cut from the Cullinan diamond, a 3,100-carat stone that was mined near Pretoria.
A smaller diamond cut from the same stone, known as Cullinan II, is set in the Imperial State Crown which is worn by British monarchs on ceremonial occasions.
According to the Royal Collection Trust, which oversees the royal collection of the British royal family, the Cullinan diamond was presented to King Edward VII (the British monarch at the time) in 1907, two years after its discovery in a private mine in South Africa’s old Transvaal province.
A replica of the whole Cullinan diamond, which is about the size of a man’s fist, is displayed at the Cape Town Diamond Museum.