British Queen Jewelry
This is a thread about the Jewels worn by Queen Elizabeth II. They include the crown Jewels. The queen owned 23,000 jewels of which more than 19,000 originate from India. Some context before we explore: The English royalty has the world’s greatest collection of Royal Jewelry. Their clothes, costumes, and ceremonial & coronational objects are adorned with a rich set of Jewel. The English Kings and Queens had a great fascination for Diamonds in particular.
However, there was a problem. Diamonds were not naturally available in England. Until 1725, all of the world’s diamonds came only from one country: India. India was the only natural home of diamonds. India’s proverbial riches were famed and desired throughout the world.
The Indian diamonds were coveted by the British Royals and their merchants. These riches were one of the primary Inducements for the establishment of the East India Company. After the conquest and colonization of India, the diamonds & gems increased multifold in the royal collection. The Kohinoor is the most expensive diamond in the world. The diamond originally belonged to a Hindu temple. An object of British loot, It was forcibly seized from an 11-year-old child Duleep Singh in a treaty after defeating him in war. The diamond adorns the English crown today.
The Delhi Durbar Tiara was designed in 1911 for Queen Mary for a massive celebration held in Delhi to mark the coronation of her husband King George V. It hosts precious Indian & African diamonds acquired through colonialism. It is now worn by Queen Elizabeth II’s daughter-in-law.
The sovereign’s orb has been used during the coronation ceremony of every English Monarch since 1661. After the British victory in the Battle Of Plassey(1757) & from the Indian riches acquired, it was adorned with diamonds. Today, it is a set of pearls, emeralds, 365 diamonds, and one Amethyst.
In 1947, the British put Nizam and his personal possessions under tremendous political pressure and danger. To curry favor with them, he “gifted” a 300 diamond studded necklace to Queen Elizabeth II. Most of these precious diamonds came from the Kollur mine of Andhra Pradesh.
“Gifts” were often a means of colonialist loot induced by exerting tremendous political and military pressure. The Nizam of Hyderabad also “gifted” Queen Elizabeth (then princess) a tiara studded with expensive diamonds. He was under tremendous political and military pressure.
The British conquest of Bengal was soon followed by the Bengal famine of 1770. This famine killed an estimated 10 million people(almost 1/3rd of the population of the presidency). During the same time, around 1200 diamonds and gems were added to the Royal Jewelry.
In 1876, Southern India was hit by a huge famine. According to Digby, over 10.3 million people were killed. Just when the famine occurred, Lord Lytton shipped to England 6.4 million tons of wheat from India. Even as India was suffering from the deadly famine of 1876, the royal family continued to acquire diamonds. In the famine year, Queen Victoria presented to her granddaughter a diamond pendant called the English Rose. This was one of the world’s most expensive diamond pendants of its time. Just then, Queen Victoria gave herself the title “empress of India”.
Even as millions of Indians were dying for want of food, the British viceroy continued shipping food products from India to England The Royal family continued acquiring diamonds. This was the reality of British rule.