At his coronation on May 6, King Charles will hold the royal sceptre.
The sceptre, which has been used in coronations since 1661, traditionally represents the sovereign’s power and good governance—but these days, it also represents a great deal of controversy.
This is because the sceptre contains the world’s largest clear-cut diamond, The Star Of Africa.
The huge 530-carat diamond, which is officially known as the Cullinan I, was taken from a mine near Pretoria in South Africa in 1905. The diamond was then presented to the British Monarchy by South Africa’s colonial government in 1907.
Since then, the Star of Africa has lived within the royal sceptre, which—aside from it’s appearances at ceremonial events—remains inside the Tower of London with the other Crown Jewels.
Calls for The Star of Africa and other diamonds to be returned to their countries of origin have increased since the Queen’s death. The most recent petition demanding The Star of Africa’s return to South Africa holds over 8000 signatures.
The Star of Africa isn’t the only one of the crown jewels facing controversy—calls for the Kohinoor diamond to be returned to India have also reignited
The 105-carat diamond, which is believed to have been taken from the Andhra Pradesh region of India in the 14th century, was set into the crown of the Queen Mother and worn by Queen Elizabeth II for her 1953 coronation.
Until recently, it was also largely presumed that Camilla, Queen Consort, would wear the same crown for her coronation alongside King Charles, however, the royal family has confirmed that Camilla will not be wearing the jewel.
This doesn’t, however, mean that Camilla won’t be wearing any controversial jewels. The crown has been reset with the Cullinan III, IV and V diamonds—which were cut from the same stone as The Star of Africa.
As most of the Crown Jewels were acquired during the period of British colonisation, the items and the royals who wear them, will always face a degree of controversy.
For now, we’ll just have to wait and see which jewels the royals choose to wear at the upcoming coronation.