Queen Camilla urged not to wear Cullinan diamond during SA state visit

King Charles and Camilla attend Festival of Remembrance

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Queen Camilla has been requested not to wear the Cullinan diamond during the visit by the South African President next week as a leading trade unionist in the Rainbow Nation claimed it could be an “unfortunate” reminder of colonialism. The President of the Republic of South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa, accompanied by Dr Tshepo Motsepe, will pay a state visit to the United Kingdom between November 22 to November 24.

The King and the Queen Consort will host the state visit at Buckingham Palace.

The Telegraph reported that Zwelinzima Vavi, one of South Africa’s best-known trade unionists whose father worked in the gold mining industry during the height of apartheid, said that if the diamond was worn by either the Queen Consort or the Princess of Wales it would be a “most unfortunate” reminder of the colonial era’s past

The news report further stated that it is the largest rough-cut diamond ever found and it was mined in South Africa in 1905 before being presented to King Edward VII as a gesture of friendship and loyalty.

The 3,106 carat uncut Cullinan diamond was discovered at the Premier Mine near Pretoria.

Queen Elizabeth II reportedly was aware that the jewellery “could often speak louder than words” and used it to send messages of friendship.

In October 2018, she wore the Cullinan diamonds for a state banquet at Buckingham Palace during a visit by King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands.

The choice was considered a nod to the fact that the diamonds had been cut in Amsterdam.

But the Queen’s death prompted an online petition in South Africa that has attracted almost 8,000 signatures, calling for the diamond to be returned and placed in a South African museum.

Mr Vavi said that if they were worn next week it would “be like spitting in the face of South Africans”.

He added: “It would be most unfortunate and would be flaunting the history of Cecil John Rhodes in our faces and, of course, the colonial era’s mining industry – a period where the minerals and the land were taken from us which we then had to fight for.”

Susan Booysen, one of South Africa’s popular political analysts, told the publication it was “hard to imagine” the diamond would be worn.

She added: “Given South Africa’s history and the effects of the colonial period, especially within the mining industry, this would, I am sure, shock Mr Ramaphosa and many South Africans. Surely, surely this would not happen.”

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However, Buckingham Palace has not revealed which pieces of jewellery will be worn by members of the Royal Family during Tuesday’s state banquet.

Meanwhile, the trip will be the first state visit to be held in the UK for more than three years due to the Covid pandemic.

It is also the fourth state visit by a South African leader since the country’s transition to democracy in 1994.

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