Quite extraordinarily, the Indian government has just claimed the Koh I Noor diamond was voluntarily gifted by the Sikh ruler Dulip Singh to the British government.
Now while I quite understand that the Indian government is seeking to avoid a confrontation with the British government over the diamond, that cannot justify the telling in court of such an outrageous lie.
My biography of Alexander Burnes will be out in August. It includes an extremely vivid account of a party hosted by the great Maharaja Ranjit Singh, at which the British officers and their Sikh hosts got uproariously drunk and played catch with the Koh I Noor. The recipient of Burnes’ letter, Major General Ramsay, was the same man who as Lord Dalhousie was to take the Koh I Noor from Dulip Singh – a child prisoner just ten years old – after the Sikhs were defeated by the British in a bloody war of conquest. To describe this as a “gift” is absolutely preposterous.
Britain annexed the Sikh Kingdom. Poor Dulip Singh was forcibly separated from his mother and exiled to Scotland, where he was held effectively a state prisoner until his death.
It is bad enough to see senior Indians kowtowing to that lazy bald bloke and his skinny wife, on the very expensive luxury holiday I am paying for, without also seeing the Indian government playing lickspittle in court.