Duleep Singh ~ Maharajah of Lahore and King of the Sikh Empire

Muharajah Duleep Singh: There is a memorial stone in the kirkyard of Kenmore at the foot of Loch Tay in memory of an infant son of the Muharajah Duleep Singh, late ruler of the Sikh nation, Punjab, India, and of the Maharance his wife. He was born on 4 August 1865 and died the following day. “On his return from Europe in 1855 he was given an annual pension, and was officially under ward of Sir John Spencer Login and Lady Login, who leased Castle Menzies in Perthshire, Scotland for him. He spent the rest of his teens there but at 19 he demanded to be in charge of his household, eventually, he was given this and an increase in his annual pension. In 1858 the lease expired and Duleep Singh rented the house at Auchlyne from the Earl of Breadalbane. He was remarkable in the area as the first Indian prince to visit Scotland, and soon earned the nickname the “Black Prince of Perthshire”. He was known for a lavish lifestyle, shooting parties, and a love of dressing in highland costume. (At the same time, he was known to have gradually developed a sense of regret for his circumstances in exile, including some inner turmoil about his conversion to Christianity and his forced departure from the Punjab). His mother stayed in Perthshire with him for a short time, before he purchased the Grandtully Estate, near Pitlochry. Following the deaths of his mother and John Login in 1863, he returned to England.”

“Maharajah Duleep Singh, the Maharajah of Lahore and King of the Sikh Empire, was born on the 6th September 1838. The son of the legendary Lion of the Punjab – Maharajah Ranjit Singh, and the Messalina of the Punjab – Maharani Jind Kaur, the young Duleep Singh came to the throne of Punjab in 1843 succeeding his half brother Maharajah Sher Singh. After the close of the Second Anglo-Sikh War and the subsequent annexation of the Punjab in 1849, he was deposed at the age of 11 by the East India Company, separated from his mother and sent to England. Maharajah Duleep Singh’s a arrival to the shores of England in 1854 threw him into a different limelight. Her Majesty Queen Victoria showered affection upon the turbaned Maharajah, as did the Prince Consort. The unlikely of alliances saw the start of a relationship of love and loyalty. The Maharajah was looked upon as an adopted son of Her Majesty, encouraged mingling with the household, playing with the younger Princes and holiday with them at Osborne House. His princely appearance and native ways were a sheer joy for the Royal Family. This being evident in the delightful photograph taken by Prince Albert of his children, little Prince Alfred, later the Grand Duke of Saxe-Coburg Gotha and Prince Arthur, later the Duke of Connaught dressed in the Maharajah’s turbans and Indian dress complete with rows of pearls. Even Her Majesty attempted her art skills by drawing sketches and watercolours of the handsome Sikh king in her sketchpad. The Maharajah’s fondness of the weak Prince Leopold was touching, whilst his friendship with the Prince of Wales remained until the end. The committed Queen and Prince Consort became the godparents to the Maharajah’s eldest son Prince Victor, who the Maharajah named after his most gracious sovereign. Invited to almost every Royal gathering and wedding of his day, the Maharajah’s presence added a zest to every occasion. The big-spending Maharajah had all the ingredients of a Victorian Prince, besides being a serial playboy; he was an avid shooting squire who knew how to throw a party. His fondness of the highlife was a contributor to his demise if the injustice of the British establishment was not entirely to blame. Their inability to keep their promises drove the Maharajah to foreign meddlers, but his allegiance to other European superpowers proved less successful The Maharajah had six children from his first wife Maharani Bamba, namely, Princes Victor, Frederick, and Albert Edward Duleep Singh, and Princesses Bamba, Catherine and Sophia Duleep Singh. The children led their very own and sometimes personal lives. There was Frederick the archaeologist, antiquarian and generous benefactor to East Anglia and resident of Blo Norton Hall, Victor the debt ridden possessive gambler and bankrupt married to Lady Anne Coventry, Sophia the fanatical Suffragette, Catherine the secretive and notorious visitor to war torn Germany and holder of a mysterious Swiss bank account, whose relations with her governess were more than intimate, and Bamba, the self styled grumpy Queen of Lahore who outlived everyone, living in her own imaginary Royal court. From his second wife, Maharani Ada, he had two daughters, Princesses Pauline and Irene Duleep Singh. Strangely none of Maharajah Duleep Singh’s children had any issue, and thus the lineage ceased. The Maharajah, who died in Paris in 1893, is buried in Elveden Church beside the grave of his wife Maharani Bamba, and his son Prince Edward Albert Duleep Singh.”