The British royal family is once again facing a controversy involving its jewels.
At his coronation on Saturday, King Charles III is set to hold a royal scepter that contains a diamond known as the Star of Africa, the world’s largest clear-cut diamond. The jewel was found in South Africa in 1905 and weighs a massive 530 carats, according to Reuters. Two years after its discovery, it was presented by the colonial government to the British monarchy.
Now, as institutions are grappling with calls for the repatriation of stolen jewels and artifacts, some South Africans are calling for the diamond’s return. A petition supporting that cause has gathered about 8,000 signatures, according to the wire service. A request for comment sent from Robb Report to the British royal family’s communications team was not immediately returned.
“The diamond needs to come to South Africa. It needs to be a sign of our pride, our heritage, and our culture,” Johannesburg lawyer and activist Mothusi Kamanga told Reuters. “I think generally the African people are starting to realize that to decolonize is not just to let people have certain freedoms, but it’s also to take back what has been expropriated from us.”
There have been a few discussions surrounding the gems present at the coronation: Queen Camilla’s ceremony crown, for one, will reportedly not contain a diamond that is also surrounded by controversy. And it isn’t the first time there have been calls for the return of the Star of Africa. Since apartheid was repealed in the country, some citizens have asked that the precious gem be given back to the people of South Africa, Reuters reported. One of those moments included back in 1995, when Queen Elizabeth II made her first visit to the country in 48 years. Another was when she died last year.
Some residents, thought, did not feel the same about the diamond discussion. “I don’t think it matters anymore. Things have changed, we’re evolving,” Dieketseng Nzhadzhaba told Reuters.
The jewel, which is officially known as Cullinan I, was taken from a large 3,100 carat stone mined near Pretoria, Reuters reports. Meanwhile, an additional smaller cut diamond from the same main stone—named Cullinan II—was placed in the Imperial State Crown, which makes appearances at ceremonial events by the British monarch. Both the crown and scepter are stored along with other crown jewels at the Tower of London.