Photo: Getty
  /  09.20.2022

A national debate is growing in South Africa for Britain’s royal family to return the world’s largest known clear-cut diamond in Queen Elizabeth II’s sceptre in the wake of her death.

The gem in the sceptre is 530.2 carats and known as the Great Star of Africa or Cullinan I. It was found in 1905 and handed over to the royal family by South Africa’s colonial authorities. There have always been demands to return this diamond to the country. However, the Queen’s death has triggered a fresh conversation over the legacy of the royal family along with calls for reparations from Britain for centuries of brutal colonial rule.

Activists in South Africa have started a petition, which has received over 7,000 signatures, for the diamond to be returned and placed in a South African museum instead.

“The Cullinan Diamond must be returned to South Africa with immediate effect,” activist Thanduxolo Sabelo told the Sunday Times. “The minerals of our country and other countries continue to benefit Britain at the expense of our people.” He continued, “We remain in deep, shameful poverty, we remain with mass unemployment and rising levels of crime due to the oppression and devastation caused by her and her forefathers.”

African Transformation Movement (ATM) politician Vuyo Zungula said South Africa should leave the Commonwealth and demand reparations “for all the harm done by Britain” and “demand the return of all the gold, diamonds stolen by Britain”.

The Cullinan diamond is just one of the many precious possessions from colonized countries that remain in British museums or crowns. These also include India’s Kohinoor diamond, which is one of the world’s largest and most controversial diamonds set in the crown of the Queen Mother that will now be passed on to Camilla, the Queen Consort to King Charles III. The Kohinoor has always been a topic of contention between India and the UK as some Indians believe the diamond, found in India in the 14th century, was stolen during the colonial regime.

As previously reported by REVOLT, the Queen died at the age of 96 on Sept. 8 after more than 70 years on the throne. She was laid to rest on Monday (Sept. 19) at Windsor Castle in England, following her funeral at Westminster Abbey.

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