LAHORE: William Dalrymple and Anita Anand, along with Fakir Syed Aijazuddin, took us on a journey back in time; from Indian Mughal Empire to the Tower of London today, a story of greed, torture, murder and conquest, the story of the stone known as Kohinoor. Both Dalrymple and Anand were unimpressed by the history surrounding the diamond and knew that something had to be done. So, they put it upon themselves to find the true history of Kohinoor. After years of research and hard work, they finally unlocked the mystery and wrote a book about it, ‘Kohinoor: The Story of the World’s Most Infamous Diamond.’ Addressing a session during the Lahore Literary Festival (LLF) 2017, William Dalrymple and Anita Anand spoke about the story of the most infamous stone known to man. Dalrymple began the talk, explaining that the diamond was not mined! Instead, it was found sandy beds of southern India. That was where majority of diamonds were found during that time, according to Dalrymple. He talked about how the story of the diamond initiated and the number of men and women killed in battles for obtaining the prized jewel. “The gem held the power to create unrest among rulers,” Dalrymple said. He explained that Mughal emperors liked red stones more than pointed crystals, but that did not stop them from appreciating beautiful gems. “Upon discovering the Kohinoor, the Mughals immediately fell in love with the stone! The diamond was fixed on the famous jewelled seat of Mughal emperors, ‘Peacock Throne’. But, when the Persian Nadir Shah invaded Delhi, he carried away the Peacock Throne and got Kohinoor detached from the throne. He got the diamond fixed in his arm band as an ornament.” “Ahmed Shah Abdaligot the custody of the stone after Nadir Shah’sand the stone stayed in the family for three generations. It was with Nadir Shah’s grandson, Shah Shuja Durrani who lost the stone. Durrani fled to Lahore when a possible Afghan invasion was rumoured. Maharaja Ranjit Singh saved his life by giving him shelter. Durrani’s wife promised Ranjit that he would get Kohinoor for his help, but Shuja refused to give the diamond away as the promise was never made by him. “Ranjit Singh would not have that and got his way when Durrani was forced to hand over the gem after seeing his son being tortured in front of his eyes. After getting his hands on the diamond, Ranjit Singh said, in his will, that it should be given to the Jaganath Temple. His will was never fulfilled though and the Kohinoor disappeared,” said Dalrymple. Dalrymple handed the presentation over to the co-author of the book, Anita Anand. The British radio and television presenter began her presentation by explaining that the events that occurred after everything her co-author mentioned resemble HBO’s fantasy show, ‘Game of Thrones’, with bloodshed, killing and treachery present in every part of the story. Enlightening the audience on the diamond’s journey to England, Anand said, “With Ranjit Singh’s death in 1839 and the precious diamond now lost, Ranjit’s first son, Karak Singh, inherited the empire. He was incapable of handling throne and was soon poisoned with his 19-year-old son, Naunihal, also dead in his bedroom. The only hope left for Chand Kaur, Karak Singh’s wife, was if her pregnant daughter-in-law gives birth to a son. However, destiny had other plans and the boy was stillborn. To save their lives, Chand Kaur, along with her daughter-in-law, fled Lahore. “The story completely turned on its head when Ranjit Singh’s youngest wife, Rani Jindan, came up with Duleep Singh, her son, who was a child at that time. Jindan came to the darbar full of men, determined to rule and to give orders. The men, however, refused to a woman giving them orders, especially a low born. That is when James Andrew Brown, the governor-general of India, stepped in and forcefully got a treaty signed with Duleep Singh and enforced the separation between the mother and her only son,” Anand explained. She added that after signing the ‘Last Treaty of Lahore’, Duleep was sent away to learn how to act like English men and study. “At the age of 15, he announced to accept Christianity and expressed his desire to meet Queen Victoria. Before Duleep went to England, the Kohinoor had already been found and sent to England. The diamond was to be shipped to England in a cloth patch attached to the shirt of an officer.The mission was kept so ‘top-secret’ that even the captain of the ship had no idea that they were carrying the Kohinoor with them,” Anand said. Local newspapers broke the news of the Kohinoor reaching England and it was displayed in an exhibition for the visitors to be astonished by its beauty. The visitors though did not like the stone, saying that it was just an ugly piece of rock. Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, decided to get it cut and shaped beautifully. After two years of hard work, the gem was halved in weight and size. “When both Duleep and Queen Victoria finally met, the queen put the gem in Duleep’s hands to show her love. Duleep though, gave the stone back to her as he considered her a mother figure. The queen wore the Kohinoor as part of her jewellery for the first time in that moment. No one has ever worn the gem after the Queen as it is considered as a curse for the male members of the family,” Anand said. “The precious diamond now rests in the Tower of London, set in Queen Victoria’s crown,” the journalist concluded. The audience was mesmerised by the beautiful presentation and the history of the hardest material in existence, clapping as hard as they could for the presenters for the amazing journey that they took them through.