Lots of high drama is unfolding in the run-up to the May 6 coronation of King Charles III, former Prince of Wales. Will the Kohinoor be seen or not be seen on the big day? Also, will anti-monarchists start their sloganeering against the “Long live the king” tradition?
Indian royal descendant ‘insulted’ that Kohinoor might not shine at the coronation
Firstly, it is about the big jewel in the crown, namely, the Kohinoor (or Koh-i-Noor, meaning “mountain of light” in Persian). It was given — under duress — to Queen Victoria in 1849 by Maharaja Duleep Singh of Punjab, India, who was then only a boy and had his mother in the British colonial rulers’ custody. The diamond then became part of the crown jewels and had its near-mythical reputation enhanced. It was set in the crown of Queen Mother Elizabeth, wife of King George VI, mother of the long-reigning British monarch Queen Elizabeth II, and grandmother of soon-to-be-crowned King Charles III.
Following the death of Queen Elizabeth II on September 8, 2022, demands were renewed in India that the Kohinoor be returned. In order to avoid further controversy around this demand, the diamond will reportedly be kept away from public view at the coronation.
However, according to a Mail Online report yesterday, a descendant of the Punjab royals said that he felt “insulted” by the decision to keep the Kohinoor away from the coronation of King Charles III.
The whole thing was to be blamed on “woke politics”, said Dr Jaswinder Singh Sukherchakia, a resident of Punjab, India, who traces his lineage back to the illustrious Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab, father of Duleep Singh and the last recognised owner of the Kohinoor.
Sukherchakia told Mail Online that his family “would not have had any issue with [Queen Consort] Camilla wearing it”. He said that the decision to keep the Kohinoor out of the coronation was “driven by political motives”, and that he did not understand the “oversensitive” reaction to the Kohinoor, because how the great jewel passed into the hands of the British was a part of India’s history.
Sukherchakia also said that if the descendants of Maharaja Ranjit Singh had no objection to Camilla wearing the crown with the Kohinoor, then why should anyone else be offended? He said in the Mail Online interview that he would watch the coronation on TV, and that he had been looking forward to seeing the Kohinoor, but now felt “quite insulted that it won’t be there”.
UK Republic plans to protest against monarchy on coronation day with #NotMyKing pledge
Secondly, the coronation of King Charles III next week could see big anti-monarchy protests across Britain, led by the group ‘UK Republic’. The group, founded in 1983, is named after the very short-lived republic that followed the execution of King Charles I in January 1649. His execution was decided by the Parliament of that time, ignoring the House of Lords, because Charles I had greatly misused his powers.
The news agency Reuters reported that UK Republic planned to use the coronation of the current King Charles III to urge the people of Britain to end the monarchy altogether. The website of UK Republic carries the hashtag #NotMyKing, and asks visitors to add their name to a ‘Pledge to Protest’. The pledge text said: “On Saturday 6th May, the eyes of the world will be on the coronation. This is the moment we make our objection loud, visible and impossible to ignore.”
The #NotMyKing pledge by UK Republic offers two options to protesters: “I pledge to protest in London”, or “I pledge to protest where I live”.
The London location for the planned anti-monarchy protest is Trafalgar Square, one of the main city squares that will be on the route of the royal procession. Indeed, the protesters will gather near the statue of the executed King Charles I “at the top end of Whitehall”.
According to the website: “The Republic team will be there from 6am. We’re encouraging as many people as possible to get there for 8am, but keep on turning up throughout the morning! We want the biggest protest possible by the time Charles comes back from the [Westminster] Abbey sometime around 1pm.” The organisers urged the pledge-takers to bring yellow placards saying “Abolish the monarchy”, if they wanted to make their own placards.