A CONTROVERSIAL CORONATION FOR ENGLAND’S KING CHARLES THE THIRD
On the 6th of May 2023 Price Charles was coronated and officially became King Charles III, the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. As he was the eldest child of Queen Elizabeth II, post his mother’s passing in September last year, the throne then passed onto the new King, Charles. His mother was Britain’s longest reigning monarch, while her son is the longest-serving-monarch in waiting as he is 73 years old at the time of his ascension to the throne. While historical, King Charles’ coronation has not been without controversy. In the past few years, the British public’s love and support of the monarchy has started to wane somewhat, with many thinking it’s archaic and representative of a problematic and outdated institution. This sentiment is more common against the younger population, with the older generations still in support of Britain’s continuing monarchy. The population is split as to whether or not there should still be a monarchy in 100 years’ time.
The recent coronation places King Charles III as the head of state for note only Great Britain and Northern Ireland, but for fourteen sovereign countries including: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu. The coronation itself is a procession and spectacle that is certainly something to behold, and couldn’t have taken place without the Crown Jewels, the use and placement of which form an integral part of the crowning process. The Crown Jewels have a history that stems back almost 1000 years to the reign of Edward the Confessor, that being said – very few of them look like they did back then as they frequently undergo restorations and alterations depending on the ruling monarch at the time. Most were also entirely melted down and remade in the 1600s after the monarchy was restored.
The reason the Crown Jewels are so contentious is largely due to the stones, and in particular the diamonds that are set within them. Arguably the most controversial diamond that sits within Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother’s coronation crown is the Koh-i-Noor Diamond, which was a forced gift from the East India Trading Company in 1849. The diamond nor its crown were seen at King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla’s coronation due to problematic nature of it’s acquisition and the Queen Consort’s decision not to wear it. The Cullinan diamond on the other hand was very visible and is one that strikes closer to home as it is the largest diamond ever discovered in a mine in Pretoria. It was bought by Britain’s colonial government at the time and presented to King Edward the VII, where it was then cut into nine separate stones. The largest of the nine stones is known as the Heart of Africa, and it is this stone that sits in the centre of Sovereign’s Scepter with Cross. The second largest stone cut from the original Cullinan diamond now sits in the Imperial State Crown which King Charles wore when leaving Westminster Abbey.
The recent use and visibility of these diamonds have sparked backlash in their respective countries of origin and have prompted calls for them to be returned to their ‘rightful’ homes.