In the next days, O King Charles III and Camilla, the queen consort, will receive the first visit from a head of state since assuming their new roles as sovereigns of the British monarchy. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and his wife Tshepo Motsepe arrive in London on Tuesday and some South African activists have left a serious warning to the Queen Consort.
The agenda includes a banquet at Buckingham Palace in honor of the South African president and his wife, and these activists point out that it would be very inconvenient if the Queen Consort – or even the Princess of Wales – wore the famous Cullinan diamond, previously worn by Elizabeth II, as it would be a “very unhappy” memory of mining in the colonial era.
The Cullinan diamond, known as the Great Star of Africa or Cullinan I, which in its rough state weighed 3,106 carats, was cut from a larger gem, extracted in a mine near Pretoria, South Africa, in 1905, and delivered to King Edward VII by the South African colonial authorities. It is currently part of the royal scepter that belonged to Queen Elizabeth II.
In an interview with The Telgraph, Zwelinzima Vavi, one of South Africa’s best-known trade unionists, warned of the impoliteness and provocation that it would be if any member of the royal family wore the Cullinan diamond during the reception at Bunckingham Palace: “It would be very unfortunate and would be flaunting the Cecil John Rhodes story in our faces”, assured.
A statement that deserved the attention of political analyst Susan Booysen, who in statements to the same newspaper, corroborated Vavi’s opinion: “Given the history of South Africa and the effects of the colonial period, especially within the mining industry, this would, I am sure, shock Mr. Ramaphosa and many South Africans”. Booysen believes that will not happen.
The jewels in question include a brooch with two stones – the 94.4-carat Cullinan III and the 63.3-carat Cullinan IV; a second heart-shaped brooch, which contains the Cullinan V, which weighs 18.8 carats; the Delhi Durbar necklace; a third brooch that integrates the Cullinan VI and Cullinan VIII; and a platinum ring set with the smallest of the nine stones, the 4.4-carat Cullinan IX.
Since the death of Queen Elizabeth, on September 8, an online petition has been launched in South Africa – which already has more than eight thousand signatures – demanding the return of the Cullinan to the South African nation.