For First Time In Britain, New Exhibition To Explore Story Of Koh-i-Noor As ‘Symbol Of Conquest

A new exhibition at the Tower of London will study the history and origins of the disputed Koh-i-Noor diamond — India has long demanded its return — and recount the priceless stone’s story as a “symbol of conquest, with many previous owners” for the first time in Britain.

Just weeks after the coronation of the King and Queen Consort on May 6, the Tower of London is set to transform Jewel House, where the crown jewels are kept under armed guard, with a new display exploring more stories than ever before about the history, origins, and significance of the crown jewels, including the Koh-i-Noor, on May 26.

“The history of the Koh-i-Noor, which is set within the crown of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, will be explored,” said Historic Royal Palaces, the independent charity that manages the Tower of London. “A combination of objects and visual projections will tell the story of the stone as a symbol of conquest, with many previous owners including Mughal emperors, Shahs of Iran, Afghan emirs, and Sikh maharajas,” it said.

A short film will be shown, along with a map that traces the Koh-i-journey Noor’s through the hands of various owners.

Buckingham Palace revealed last month that the Koh-i-Noor will not be used during Camilla’s coronation because Queen Mary’s Crown will be used instead of the late Queen Mother’s crown, in which the Koh-i-Noor is set. The Queen Mother’s crown last appeared in public in 2002, when it was placed atop the Queen Mother’s coffin for her funeral.

The Koh-i-Noor exhibit will be accompanied by an Indian armlet set containing a replica Koh-i-Noor, displaying its dimensions prior to re-cutting.

The rock crystals in the armlet represent the Koh-i-Noor in its original form before it was recut to conform to contemporary European tastes, reducing the stone from 191.03 modern carats to a 105.6-carat oval. Following Queen Victoria’s death, the stone was placed in the crowns of Queen Alexandra, Queen Mary, and the Queen Mother.

The display tells the story of the Koh-i-Noor and will also include Queen Alexandra’s crown frame from 1902. The exhibition will trace the history of the current crown jewels back to the medieval coronation regalia, which were destroyed during the English Civil War.

For Camilla’s coronation, the Queen Mary crown will be reset with the Cullinan III, IV, and V diamonds. The story of the Cullinan diamond will also be told, with the hammer and knife used to make the first cuts to the massive diamond on display for the first time in the Jewel House.