May 6 is another big day for the British royal family. Preparations for the new King’s coronation are in full force. Even though their titles are mostly honorary, the royal family has fans and critics around the globe. With the death of Queen Elizabeth II and the ongoing controversies surrounding the estranged Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the family is a consistent subject of discussion and memes on the internet. Since Netflix’s The Crown, a semi-biographical show inspired by the royals became a global sensation, however, the dissolution of the monarchy has become an even more popular debate.
The royal family lost a million followers on Instagram this week, ahead of the big ceremony. Mint reported that there were 13 million followers on their official Instagram account before dropping to 12.9 million followers. Musicians Adele and Ed Sheeran declined to perform at the coronation, sparking disappointment. To top it all off, Harry and Meghan, the long-estranged Duke and Duchess of Sussex, have not RSVP’d to the ceremony either.
On February 14, Buckingham Palace confirmed that Camila, the Queen Consort, won’t wear the Kohinoor diamond at the coronation. Queen Mary’s crown, which held a replica of the Kohinoor diamond, would be reset without the stone ahead of the coronation of King Charles III. The Kohinoor famously has a deeply controversial history, entangled in British Imperialism.
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The Kohinoor, or Mountain of Light, ranks as one of the world’s largest diamonds. Maharaja Duleep Singh, the 11-year-old emperor of the Sikhs “gifted” it to Queen Victoria in 1849, but critics argue that Britain plundered the diamond just like many other artefacts. The diamond now stays on the Queen Mother’s Crown, as property of the British Empire.
Kohinoor is hardly the only stolen diamond on the Crown Jewels. Mughal emperor Shah Jahan’s Great Mogul Diamond is also on the Crown. The Timur Ruby, a large, red spinel that many believe Mughal Emperor Timur owned, is now part of the British Crown Jewels.
Some are praising the family’s decision not to adorn the controversial diamond on the big day, but most see it as an empty gesture. Even though Camila chose not to wear the Kohinoor, her crown will instead include another set of controversial diamonds. The Cullinan III, IV and V diamonds will embrace the crown as a tribute to Queen Elizabeth II. The stones, mined from South Africa, were part of her personal jewellery collection as brooches. Historians point out that these diamonds are also artefacts of British imperialism.
With so many recent controversies surfacing, King Charles III’s coronation could turn out to be a grim affair. Then again, most of the Royal Family’s grandeur, stained with remnants of their colonial history, comes off that way to anti-imperialists. While there is still a large chunk of the British population who reveres their royals, a YouGov survey conducted in 2020 suggests that this number might be on a decline, thanks to the country’s youth.