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William Dalrymple and Anita Anand

Historian William Dalrymple and broadcaster Anita Anand discuss their new book Koh-I-Noor: The History of the World's Most Infamous Diamond.

Historian William Dalrymple and broadcaster Anita Anand discuss their new book Koh-I-Noor: The History of the World's Most Infamous Diamond.

The book reveals the true story behind the diamond, dispelling many of the myths that surround it, and exposing a tale of greed, murder, torture, colonialism and appropriation through a slice of Asian history. The diamond was said to be cursed for men to own/wear and has only been worn by women since it came to Britain in 1850. It was given to Queen Victoria and displayed at the Great Exhibition of 1851. It now resides in the crown of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother in the Tower of London.

The story raises not only important historical issues but contemporary ones, too. In many ways it is a touchstone for attitudes towards colonialism, posing the question: what is the proper response to imperial looting? Do we simply shrug it off as part of history, or should we attempt to right the wrongs of the past? In recent years there have been repeated calls to have the stone returned to India, but with Persia/Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan also having good claims to ownership, it's unlikely to be leaving British shores anytime soon.

1 hour, 55 minutes

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