The Queen’s funeral is finally taking place today after tens of thousands of Brits queued to see the Queen lying in state in London over the past week. Now, with the world’s eyes on the UK capital, South Africa has said one of the crown jewels is actually theirs – and they’re asking for it back.
The diamond is the largest known clear-cut diamond in the whole world and sits on the end of one of the Queen’s sceptres. It’s known as the Great Star of Africa, or Cullinan I, and was part of a larger diamond which South Africa gifted to the royal family while it was under British rule in 1905.
Since the Queen died, many in South Africa have called for the diamond – which sat on the top of the Queen's coffin during her lying in state – to be returned. There has been a lot of debate in the South African press about who is the real owner of the Great Star of Africa, as well as discussion around other precious stones. More than 6,000 people have signed a petition calling for it to be placed in a museum. The aim is to reach 7,500 over the coming days.
Activist Thanduxolo Sabelo told South African media: ‘The Cullinan diamond must be returned to South Africa with immediate effect. The minerals of our country and other countries continue to benefit Britain at the expense of our people.’
The stone was presented to King Edward VII in 1907, according to the Royal Collection Trust. It had been discovered two years prior in a private mine in South Africa. The diamond weighs around 3,106 carats in its natural form, and it is said the original diamond was the size of a human heart. Though it would never go on sale, it is thought to be worth more than £350 million.
Read more: here’s where to watch the Queen’s funeral in the UK.