British Prime Minister David Cameron has reiterated that England will keep the stolen Parthenon Marbles plundered from the Acropolis nearly 200 years ago by a British diplomat because he doesn’t believe in “returnism.”
Cameron cited the marbles, stolen goods sold to the British Museum by Lord Elgin, during a visit to India where he told officials there that England will also keep a valuable diamond given to Queen Victoria in 1850 when India was a British colony.
Despite polls that show even the British believe England should give back the marbles, the British museum and government don’t want to return the stolen property because it’s a major tourist draw and brings in money.
Cameron told Indian officials he would reject their request for the return of the Koh-i-noor diamond. The Koh-i-noor diamond is set in the crown of the late Queen Mother and is on display with the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London. It was presented to Queen Victoria in 1850 under the Empire’s rule. India has made repeated requests for its return.
“It is the same question with the Elgin marbles,” Cameron said, referring to the classical Greek marble sculptures currently on display at the British Museum in London, and using the name the British give them. The late Greek actress and former Culture Minister Melina Mercouri referred to them as the Parthenon Marbles because she said the English had no right to them.
Greece has long campaigned for the marbles, which are part of the Parthenon temple on the Acropolis and which were removed by Lord Elgin during Ottoman rule, to be returned to their rightful place.
“The right answer is for the British Museum and other cultural institutions to do exactly what they do, which is to link up with other institutions around the world to make sure that the things which we have and look after so well are properly shared with people around the world,” Cameron said, even though they are not the museum’s property.
For many years the British Museum said Greece did not have a proper place to display the marbles but Greek officials asked for their return when the New Acropolis Museum opened several years ago, prompting the English to find other excuses why they wouldn’t give back the valuables.