The Koh-i-Noor

Among the greater gems in the Regalia, the Koh-i-Noor is the most famous diamond in the world. It was found in the mines of Golconda, in Southern India, and remained at Delhi, as the crowning jewel of the Great Moguls, till A.D. 1739, when by right of conquest it fell to Nadir Shah, King of Persia, who, having conquered Delhi, collected the booty due to a conqueror, but the Koh-i-Noor failed to appear amongst it.

Later, a lady of the harem of Muhammad Shah, King of Delhi, divulged that her liege lord always wore it concealed in his turban. On hearing this news, Nadir Shah invited Muhammad Shah to dinner, and took advantage of an interchange of courtesies, which no Eastern potentate could refuse and proposed changing turbans with his guest.

With such good grace as he could command, the King of Delhi thus passed the great diamond to the King of Persia. Many years later, Shah Shuja, a King of' Kabul, who had become possessed of it, being deposed, fled to Lahore, taking the diamond with him, and sought protection from Maharaja Runjeet Singh, who gave him asylum, but took possession of the priceless stone.

There, with the Maharaja, the stone remained till 1849, when the British conquered the Punjab, and the stone fell to them by the fortune of war. Subsequently it was decided to present the stone to Queen Victoria from the Army of the Punjab. The Koh-i-Noor was then cut down into the form of a brilliant and set as a brooch, worn by Queen Victoria, but in later reigns it has been set in the Queen's crown, first in that of Queen Alexandra, and later in that of Queen Mary.

In 1851 the Koh-i-Noor was put on public display as part of the Great Exhibition which took place in Hyde Park, London. The correspondent of The Times reported:

The Koh-i-Noor is at present decidedly the lion of the Exhibition. A mysterious interest appears to be attached to it, and now that so many precautions have been restored to, and so much difficulty attends its inspection, the crowd is enormously enhanced, and the policemen at either end of the covered entrance have much trouble in restraining the struggling and impatient multitude. For some hours yesterday there were never less than a couple of hundred persons waiting their turn of admission, and yet, after all, the diamond does not satisfy. Either from the imperfect cutting or the difficulty of placing the lights advantageously, or the immovability of the stone itself, which should be made to revolve on its axis, few catch any of the brilliant rays it reflects when viewed at a particular angle.

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