UK returns Ghana’s looted royal Asante artefacts in loan deal

The 150-year-old, mostly golden Asante royal regalia will be on loan for an initial three years, renewable for an additional three years

The United Kingdom has returned 32 royal artefacts looted from the Asante kingdom in the 19th century.

The royal objects were taken from the Asantehene’s palace in Kumasi during the Anglo-Asante Wars, including the infamous Sagrenti War of 1874.

They were returned on Tuesday (9 April) by the British Museum (BM) and the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A).

The 150-year-old, mostly golden royal regalia will be on loan for an initial three years and renewable for another three years.

Asante golden regalia looted by British colonial troops during the Sagrenti War of 1874. Returned to Manhyia (April 2024) by officials of the Manhyia Palace Museum

The loan deal is not with the Ghanaian government but with Otumfuo Osei Tutu II – the current traditional ruler of the Asante people.

Legal restrictions in the UK have made it impossible to return the artefacts permanently.

The return of the artefacts coincides with the silver jubilee anniversary of Asantehene Osei Tutu II, who first started the negotiations in May last year.

“Gold and silver regalia, associated with the Asante royal court, will be displayed at the Palace Museum as part of a long-term loan commitment by the Victoria & Albert and the British Museum,” the Asante palace said in a statement.

Otumfuo Osei Tutu II will receive the objects in specially designed Belgian cases in Kumasi, after which the Manhyia Palace Museum will be closed for three weeks for installation works and encasing.

The gold artefacts are the symbol of Asante traditional authority.

Many of these items will be seen in Ghana for the first time in 150 years. The items include 15 pieces from the British Museum and 17 from the Victoria and Albert Museum.

They will be on display and open to the public in May.

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