The coffin of Britain’s Queen Mother was topped by a crown that included the famed Koh-i-noor—a 108-ct. oval-cut diamond that carries controversy and an alleged curse.
The diamond is said to carry a Hindu curse that says only a woman can wear it with impunity. Any male who wears it “will know its misfortunes.” As a result, no male heir to the British throne has ever worn the diamond.
First discovered in the 14th century, it soon fell into the hands of Mogul emperors. According to legend, after Nadir Shah of Persia invaded Delhi in the 18th century, a harem woman told him that a conquered emperor had the much-sought-after stone hidden in his turban. Shah invited the emperor to dinner, and, as is Oriental custom, suggested they exchange turbans. He unrolled the turban, found the gem, and cried “Koh-i-noor!” (Mountain of Light).
In 1849, the British took possession of the diamond, although currently its ownership is under dispute: India, Iran, and the now-deposed Taliban in Afghanistan all have laid claim to the gem.