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TitleKoh-I-Noor: The History of the World’s Most Infamous Diamond
Author
Tags
LanguageEnglish
File Size3.3 MB
Total Pages263
Table of Contents
                            Cover
Half Title
By the same authors
Title Page
Contents
Map
Introduction
Part 1 The Jewel in the Throne
	1 The Indian Prehistory of the Koh-i-Noor
	2 The Mughals and the Koh-i-Noor
	3 Nader Shah: The Koh-i-Noor Goes to Iran
	4 The Durranis: The Koh-i-Noor in Afghanistan
	5 Ranjit Singh: The Koh-i-Noor in Lahore
Part 2 The Jewel in the Crown
	6 City of Ash
	7 The Boy King
	8 Passage to England
	9 The Great Exhibition
	10 The First Cut
	11 Queen Victoria’s ‘Loyal Subject’
	12 The Jewel and the Crown
	13 ‘We Must Take Back the Koh-i-Noor’
Notes
Bibliography
Acknowledgements
Index
A Note on the Authors
Plate Section
Copyright Page
                        
Document Text Contents
Page 131

While Jindan wasted away in Nepal, in early February 1850 the streets of her old
capital, Lahore, were lined by tearful subjects. They watched as their maharaja’s
caravan left Punjab for the very last time, taking him into exile. He seemed to be
taking the legacy of Ranjit Singh with him, and for many old sirdars it was
almost too much to bear. John Login had tried his best to make the journey feel
like an adventure to Duleep. His new home would be hundreds of miles away in
Fategarh, and Login filled the boy’s ears with promises of good hunting, new
experiences and the prospect of a happy childhood with a ‘normal’ family.

The family Login offered was his own. His wife Lena would join them in
Fategarh, as would his children, and there would be playmates and fun for the
maharaja. After years of uncertainty and fear, Login offered him security, space
to breathe and the freedom to act like a child.

Login’s optimism was genuine. He felt that the more miles he could put
between his ward and his old life, the better off he would be. Of late, his talks
with Duleep had inspired him to think more ambitiously. Perhaps he might be
able to remove the boy from India altogether. Much to Login’s delight, the
maharaja was beginning to show a fascination with England. He regularly asked
about its people, culture and queen: ‘I think the Maharajah shows a great desire
to hear about England. Sir H[enry] Lawrence wished he could be educated there,
and not left to grow idle and debauched in India with nothing to do, considering
what he has lost and we have gained! … he is young enough to mould.’12 If his
country could make room for Duleep’s diamond, could it also make room for
Duleep, Login wondered?

Though the British press was already clamouring for the great diamond to be
brought to England it showed very little interest in the gem’s previous owner:
‘Are we really to see the Mountain of Light? … is the renowned Koh-i-noor
really on its way to England? Is the Tower of London actually to possess such a
treasure?’ asked Lloyd’s Weekly, capturing the excited anticipation of the nation.
Though the paper was delighted at the prospect of the Koh-i-Noor’s arrival, it
was less pleased about the role Dalhousie had played in its confiscation:

Though the Marquis of Dalhousie has substantially made her Majesty a

Page 132

present of the gem, in point of form, the boy Dhuleep Singh ceded it to the
Queen. But such a cession is a mockery; the lad did exactly what he was
bid, and would have made it over with equal facility to the chief of the
Cherokee Indians, had Lord Dalhousie directed him. He signed the paper
placed before him quite regardless of its contents; and the responsibility of
its terms rest [sic] entirely with the Governor General …13

Painting an unflattering portrait of an arrogant man, the paper went on to charge
Dalhousie with betraying his employers at the East India Company and
overstepping his mandate in India. Dalhousie stood accused of unforgivable
hubris, of acting as if he were the man presenting the diamond to the queen when
he had no legal right to do so. The diamond, as with all else in the conquered
territory of Punjab, belonged to the East India Company. It should have been in
the Company’s gift to present the gem to the sovereign, not some vain servant of
that company, who sought only glory for himself.

Stung by the criticism, Dalhousie had to bear further insult when the East
India Company insisted on leaving him out of any future presentation of the
Koh-i-Noor to the queen. Though he had to accept their decision, Dalhousie did
not do so graciously. In a letter to Sir John Hobhouse, the president of the Board
of Control and ultimately the minister responsible for the East India Company,
the governor general reminded him that not one man at Leadenhall Street, the
Company’s headquarters, had played a part in securing the diamond for Britain.
Dalhousie and Dalhousie alone was responsible for the Koh-i-Noor making its
way to the queen:

Whatever my ‘affectionate friends’ at Leadenhall Street should, or may,
think, you at least will find no fault with my having regarded the Koh-i-
Noor a thing by itself, and with my having caused the Maharajah of Lahore,
in token of submission, to surrender it to the Queen of England. The Koh-i-
Noor had become in the lapse of ages a sort of historical emblem of
conquest in India. It has now found its proper resting place.14

Privately, Dalhousie was less polite, railing in a letter to a friend: ‘I am much

Page 262

Queen Mary opted for a simplified crown for the coronation of her husband, George V, in 1911. The Koh-i-
Noor was retained at the heart of the design.

Page 263

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First published in 2016 in India by Juggernaut Books, New Delhi First published in Great Britain 2017

© William Dalrymple and Anita Anand, 2017
Map © Olivia Fraser, 2017

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