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Friday
Oct122012

Crown Jewels Stolen from Ghana’s Royal Family

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(OSLO, Norway) -- Precious ancestral crown jewels were stolen from Ghana’s king while he was on a business trip to Norway and Oslo and police are trying to track down the thieves who were caught on video cameras.

The gold jewelry that has been handed down through generations of the Ashanti royal family in Ghana was in a briefcase when someone snatched it Wednesday from a hotel lobby.

King Otumfuo Osei Tutu II and his delegation were staying at the Oslo hotel while representing Ghana at a business conference.  Police told local media they have “good” surveillance pictures that they are looking through to identify suspects.

Ashanti kings are often heavily adorned in ornate golden jewelry when they make public appearances.  Historians say it is meant to symbolize the power and prestige of the Ashanti people, and many of the jewels hold symbolic spiritual meaning.

When word of the jewelry heist reached Ghana, some questioned whether the theft could lead to the king being dethroned, or rather, “destooled” because for hundreds of years Ashanti kings have been seated on a golden stool during coronation ceremonies.  However, the king’s secretary said Friday there is no cause for such drastic action because only “a few” jewels were stolen.

“It’s not such a big deal as people are speculating,” Kofi Owusu Boateng said in an interview with the BBC.

Boateng said only some rings and headwear were taken.  He said he could not estimate the dollar value of the items.

King Otumfuo Osei Tutu II became the 16th leader of Ghana’s largest ethnic group, the Ashanti (or Asante) in 1999.  Ghana’s constitution does not allow him or other traditional leaders to get involved in politics officially, but he is influential as a revered figurehead and does decide some local matters.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio