Lies and the Koh I Noor Diamond 87

Quite extraordinarily, the Indian government has just claimed the Koh I Noor diamond was voluntarily gifted by the Sikh ruler Dulip Singh to the British government.

Now while I quite understand that the Indian government is seeking to avoid a confrontation with the British government over the diamond, that cannot justify the telling in court of such an outrageous lie.

My biography of Alexander Burnes will be out in August. It includes an extremely vivid account of a party hosted by the great Maharaja Ranjit Singh, at which the British officers and their Sikh hosts got uproariously drunk and played catch with the Koh I Noor. The recipient of Burnes’ letter, Major General Ramsay, was the same man who as Lord Dalhousie was to take the Koh I Noor from Dulip Singh – a child prisoner just ten years old – after the Sikhs were defeated by the British in a bloody war of conquest. To describe this as a “gift” is absolutely preposterous.

Britain annexed the Sikh Kingdom. Poor Dulip Singh was forcibly separated from his mother and exiled to Scotland, where he was held effectively a state prisoner until his death.

It is bad enough to see senior Indians kowtowing to that lazy bald bloke and his skinny wife, on the very expensive luxury holiday I am paying for, without also seeing the Indian government playing lickspittle in court.

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87 thoughts on “Lies and the Koh I Noor Diamond

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  • Tony M

    Like gold it is inedible and thus essentially worthless.

    The next instalment will probably be titled “A Package from Karachi”.

    It begins in Glasgow’s Gartnavel Hospital where the acclaimed fifties film actor Terry-Thomas, then at the height of his fame and a household name, is admitted to a ward for an unknown malady. He proceeds to cause a commotion accusing a paraplegic young boy in the next bed of stealing his cigarette-lighter.

  • Why be ordinary?

    Reading the Indian coverage is instructive

    As the Indian Solicitor General is sensibly pointing out, India is not only a victim of history but would be vulnerable to claims from others. Further, it would be contested by the Pakistanis at least that the current Government of India is the legal successor of the Sikh empire. Had the diamond remained the personal property of the Sukh royal family it should be returned to private hands. If a state asset, it’s ownership would have passed to the Imperial government of India and ownership resolved between the successor states at independence

  • Richard

    The Indian Government might just have more important fish to fry.

    What happened in the 19th century was wrong, but it was by no means unique and it is now history. Britain is finished, India in its present form will eventually break up and the Koh-i-noor is just a bit of rock. People who pay countless thousands and millions for such baubles – what to speak of killing for them – are fools.

    And sadly lies are all around us; just turn on the tv.

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