The Great Star of Africa refers to the biggest stone cut from the Cullinan diamond which was mined in South Africa in 1905. It is also known as Cullinan I and was handed over to the British royal family by South Africa’s colonial authorities. The diamond currently sits on a royal sceptre belonging to the Queen.
Many South Africans and critics alike have continued to call on the new monarch, King Henry III, and Queen Consort, Camilla, to mark the commencement of their reign by returning the treasure back to South Africa.
A few hours after the death of Britain’s longest-serving monarch was announced, ‘Great Star of Africa’ started trending across social media in South Africa and across the continent. There have been increased calls all over the world – especially from South Africans and Indians for the return of ‘stolen’ artifacts following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Britains’s longest reigning monarch.
Citizens of South Africa and India say their countries own some of the world’s most expensive treasures, used by the British monarch, and have asked the royal family to return them to their countries of origin.
South Africans believe now is the best time for Britain to return the Great Star of Africa to its homeland since it was all these while a ‘personal belonging’ of the late Queen.
“Now it’s time to take back our Great Star of Africa: Cullinan I (Diamond) to South Africa. That’s the symbol of African greatness, the power of African God blessings. It shows how Africa is rich but you don’t even get tired of stealing its resources,” a South African expressed on Twitter.
According to reports, the Great Star of Africa was placed on the royal sceptre – which dates back to 1600. The spectre was used during the coronation ceremony in 1910. To date, the Great Star of Africa sits on the royal spectre belonging to Queen Elizabeth II and is on public display in the Jewel House at the Tower of London. The diamond maintains the record of being the largest gem-quality uncut diamond ever found.
Another piece of diamond obtained from the same source (the Cullinan) where the Great Star of Africa was obtained is set in the Imperial State Crown. South Africans believe that the second diamond, known as the ‘Second Star of Africa,’ should also be returned to South Africa.
The Second Star of Africa was placed on the royal crown explicitly made for the coronation of King George VI in 1937 and worn by the monarch upon leaving Westminster Abbey after the coronation.
You will recall that the same crown was placed on Queen Elizabeth’s coffin as she lay in state at Westminster Hall.
A petition on Change.org seeking the return of the Cullinan diamond to South Africa and urging King Charles III to make the decision has received about 10,000 signatures within a few days at the time of writing this article.
According to Britannica, the colourless stone was purchased by the Transvaal government and was presented in 1907 to the reigning British monarch, King Edward VII. It was cut into nine (9) large stones and about 100 smaller ones by I.J. Asscher and Company of Amsterdam, famed for their cutting of the Excelsior diamond, which until the discovery of the Cullinan had been the largest known diamond. The stones cut from the Cullinan diamond are now part of the British regalia.
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