When Maharaja Duleep Singh demanded Kohinoor back from Queen Victoria -1889 by Inderjeet Singh Nottingham UK

The government of India recently told the Supreme Court that Kohinoor diamond was neither “forcibly taken” nor “stolen” by British rulers but given to the East India Company by the rulers of Punjab. It seems to imply that, it was gifted and not forcibly taken by the East India Company from the 10 ½ year old ruler, Maharaja Duleep Singh.


My Amritsar based young friend Damandeep Singh Sandhanwalia, scion of the famous Sandhanwalia family who shared common ancestry with Maharaja Ranjit Singh and had a very close relationship with Maharaja Duleep Singh and were pivotal in converting him back to Sikh religion has provided extraordinary information which sheds more light on the subject.

Damandeep brought my attention to the letter dated 23rd February 1889 written by Maharaja Duleep Singh to Queen Victoria asking restoration of Kohinoor diamond back to him. The letter is in public domain as it was also published in the famous book ‘The Maharajah’s Box’ by Christy Campbell (2000). I am reproducing the extract from the letter which is on page 354 of this book. The Maharaja is candid enough and uses the word ‘robbers’ for East India Company

“Madame’, he addressed the Queen on 23 February 1889: ‘It will be useless for me to demand the restoration of my kingdom swindled from me by your Christian Government but which I hope shortly by the aid of Providence to retake from my robbers.

‘But my diamond the Koh-i-Noor I understand is entirely at your own personal disposal, therefore believing Y.M. to be “She our most religious Lady” that your subjects pray for every Sunday, I do not hesitate to ask that this gem be restored to me out of your privy purse. By such an act of justice Y.M. would acquire a clear conscience before God before whom all of us whether Christians, Mahommedans or Sikhs must render account of deeds done in the body and fulfil the law of Christ, thus washing your hands of at least one of the black works of Y.M.’s Government.

‘I demand and reclaim the restoration of my jewel and of my Sovereign rights of which I was defrauded by the perfidious representative of England.”

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