Kate Middleton will become queen consort when her husband, Prince William, ascends to the throne and is crowned king in the future.
Middleton will likely follow in the footsteps of the Queen Mother, who was the last queen consort, and wear the priceless crown that was crafted for Queen Elizabeth II’s mother by royal jeweler Garrards for her coronation in 1937. The stunning headpiece features 2,800 diamonds of varying cuts, as well as the famous Koh-i-Noor diamond.
Koh-i-Noor, which is Persian for “mountain of light,” was originally a Mughal-cut gem that weighed 191 carats, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. However, in 1852, Garrards of London recut the stone to its current form, a shallow, oval brilliant-cut diamond weighing 105.6 carats.
But while the crown is stunning, its centerpiece, the Koh-i-Noor diamond, has a controversial history, with some even claiming that it is cursed.
With a history dating back to thousands of years ago, the Koh-i-Noor has passed through many hands, mainly due to looting. Historians Anita Anand and William Dalrymple wrote in their book “Koh-i-Noor: The History of the world’s Most Infamous Diamond” that the diamond first appeared on written record in 1628, during a time when India was ruled by outsiders.
The Koh-i-Noor was reportedly one of the two most massive gems in Mughal ruler Shah Jahan’s jewel-encrusted throne, along with the Timur Ruby, according to Smithsonian.com. It was later stolen by Persian ruler Nader Shah in 1739 when he invaded Delhi. However, he removed the Timur Ruby and Koh-i-Noor diamond from the throne and instead wore them on an armband.
It was during the 19th century when the Koh-i-Noor caught the eye of the British. While the stone did return to India in 1813, with then-Sikh ruler Ranjit Singh believing it to be a symbol of power, the British eventually acquired it in 1849 after forcing the only heir to the throne, 10-year-old Duleep Singh, to give it away, along with all claim to sovereignty.
Queen Victoria was the first royal to possess the Koh-i-Noor diamond, which was initially met with indifference before it was recut to enhance its fire and brilliance.
“Many people find a difficulty in bringing themselves to believe, from its external appearance, that it is anything but a piece of common glass,” wrote The Times in June 1851.
The crown containing the Koh-i-Noor diamond was last seen during Queen Elizabeth’s funeral, but it could soon make a reappearance on Camilla Parker Bowles’ and Kate Middleton’s coronations.
It had been contested by the British and Indian governments for years, with a supreme court hearing even being held in India calling for its return.
However, Indian’s solicitor general, Ranjit Kumar, declared that the Koh-i-Noor diamond “was neither stolen nor forcibly taken away,” The Guardian reported.
“It was given voluntarily by Ranjit Singh to the British as compensation for help in the Sikh wars. The Koh-i-noor is not a stolen object,” he told the supreme court in 2016 in the wake of Prince William and Middleton’s visit to India.