Season 1, Episode 3
The Curse of the Kohinoor
The ‘Curse of the Kohinoor’ is this: Any man who wears the diamond will suffer a terrible fate. But is this true? Or was this simply a story that conveniently allowed the British Empire to justify the colonial appropriation of the diamond?
Maharaja Ranjit Singh was the last Indian owner of the Kohinoor diamond. He was a fair and secular king of Punjab, the Land of Five Rivers, with Lahore as the capital. He was chosen as the greatest ruler of all time by the BBC World Histories Magazine in 2020. When he died in 1839, his 9-year-old son Duleep Singh took over the throne. The British East India Company was watching like a vulture, and conquered the Sikh Empire through treachery. Its representatives plundered the immense wealth of the kingdom and unravelled the socioeconomic fabric of the state in just 6 months.
The Earl of Dalhousie, who was the governor general at the time, further wanted to destroy all symbols of Sikh power. And to this end, he separated the 9-year-old Duleep Singh from his mother, who was jailed for most of her life. And Dalhousie presented both Duleep and the Kohinoor as trophies to Queen Victoria.
That’s when news of the terrible curse of the Kohinoor began making the rounds even as the diamond made it onto British shores. Even today, only women in the British Royal family wear the diamond.
But is there really a curse? And should the diamond be returned? This episode reveals the true history of the Kohinoor that is conveniently forgotten by the British.
Time Markers (mins: sec)
- 00:24 – Prologue – visit to Lahore Fort
- 03:35 – Intro – What the episode is about
- 08:33 – Chapter 1 – A Fair King
- 13:29 – Chapter 2 – Funeral of a King
- 16:37 – Chapter 3 – A Boy King
- 20:29 – Chapter 4 – Plunder
- 30:48 – Chapter 5 – Reshaped
- 39:58 – Credits
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