William Dalrymple and Anita Anand: Koh-i-Noor: The History of the World&

William Dalrymple and Anita Anand: Koh-i-Noor: The History of the World's Most Infamous Diamond Paperback

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On 29 March 1849, the ten-year-old maharaja of the Punjab was ushered into the magnificent Mirrored Hall at the centre of the great fort in Lahore. There, in a public ceremony, the frightened but dignified child handed over great swathes of the richest country in India in a formal Act of Submission to a private corporation, the East India Company. He was also compelled to hand over to the British monarch, Queen Victoria, perhaps the single most valuable object on the subcontinent: the celebrated Koh-i-Noor diamond. The Mountain of Light.

The history of the Koh-i-Noor may have been one woven together from gossip of Delhi bazaars, but it was to become the accepted version. Only now is it finally challenged, freeing the diamond from the fog of mythology that has clung to it for so long. The resulting history is one of greed, murder, torture, colonialism and appropriation told through an impressive slice of south and central Asian history. It ends with the jewel in its current controversial setting: in the crown of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, which was deemed too contentious to be used by Camilla, the Queen Consort, in King Charles's coronation.

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