Monday, September 19, 2022


Queen Elizabeth II and the great star of Africa 

Did you know that the late and longest reigning British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II owned the largest clear cut diamond in the world known as The Great Star of Africa, worth between $400m – $2 billion?

The Great Star of Africa was mined on 26 January 1905 in Pretoria in Gauteng, South Africa and was reportedly stolen. The Great Star of Africa was the largest stone cut from the diamond. The 530 carats gem is approximately worth between $400 million (roughly R 6 947 000 000) and $2 billion (roughly R34 685 200 000). Now that Queen Elizabeth II has passed away, the question that lingers on everyone’s lips in the social media streets is will The Great Star of Africa be returned “home”? 

The British have reportedly claimed that the diamond was handed over to them as a symbol of friendship and peace yet this happened during the apartheid era in South Africa where there was no peace at all in the country.

The Royal Collection Trust, which oversees the royal collection of the British royal family, says the Cullinan diamond was presented to King Edward VII in 1907, two years after its discovery in a private mine in South Africa's old Transvaal province. Supporting the monarchy's claim to the precious stone, the Royal Asscher explains that the Cullinan diamond was purchased by South Africa's Transvaal government (run by British rule) and presented to King Edward VII as a birthday gift. 

However, a University of South Africa professor of African politics, Everisto Benyera, said "colonial transactions are illegitimate and immoral. Our narrative is that the whole Transvaal and Union of South Africa governments and the concomitant mining syndicates were illegal, receiving a stolen diamond does not exonerate the receiver. The private (mining) company, the Transvaal government, and the British Empire were part of a larger network of coloniality."

But according to Africa Archives, the British replaced the name The Great Star of Africa with the name of the owner of the mine Thomas Cullinan. Other sources claim that the diamond belonged to Cullinan and it was purchased by the Transvaal Government and donated to King Edward VII. That is how Elizabeth inherited it.

The Cullinian diamond weighs around 3,106 carats in its natural form, and the original diamond was "the size of a human heart", according to the Royal Asscher. It was cut into nine large stones and 96 smaller pieces, the largest of the stones was named the Great Star of Africa by King Edward VII, who also named the second largest cut stone the Smaller Star of Africa. The larger diamond was set in the Sovereign's Scepter with cross, while the second cut stone was mounted in the Imperial Crown. The Queen has been seen in many portraits wearing the diamonds.

The Star of Africa remains in the British Crown Jewels on display at the Tower of London, where millions of visitors come annually just to see the mediaeval regalia that has been used in royal ceremonies for centuries.

But recently there are growing calls for the return of The Great Star of Africa. A South African MP has demanded Britain 'return' the diamonds used in the Queen's crown and spectre. In a tweet, Vuyolwethu Zengula urged his country to demand reparations for the UK's colonial rule of the country, and leave the Commonwealth.

Last month, a London museum agreed to return 72 objects looted from the Kingdom of Benin, in southern Nigeria, during a British military operation in 1897. Also, in 2018, an Egyptian archaeologist said that the Cleopatra's Needle obelisk, located on the banks of the River Thames in London, should be returned to Egypt - if the city would not restore the monument.

The debate about treasures taken under during the Empire has even been depicted in Hollywood. More than 6,000 people have signed a petition calling for the Great Star of Africa to be returned and put in a South African museum. South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa offered his condolences following the death of the Queen but many have said instead he should have called for the diamond to be returned.

Credit : penglobal

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