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Duleep Singh – The Last King of the Sikhs

Duleep Singh – The Last King of the Sikhs

During the British occupation of India, the one state that they could not conquer was the Sikh Kingdom of the Punjab. The Punjab was governed by Maharaja Ranjit Singh who had a formidable army that could challenge the British. It was upon his death and after the second Anglo Sikh war that the British invaded and annexed the Punjab. The British fearful of an uprising, decided to take Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s son, Duleep Singh back to England. Accompanying the young prince was the Kohinoor diamond that now resides in the queen’s jewels as a prize possession.

Dr. John Logan was assigned to look after the young prince and transform him into a Christian quintessential Englishmen. They set for sail for the UK in April 1854 and was greeted by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert at Buckingham Palace upon arrival. The queen took an

instant liking to the young prince and embraced him into their close inner circle. This transcended into a intimate relationship between the royal family and the young prince. The prince would engulf on holidays with the royal family to Osborne House in the Isle of Wight and shooting vacations in Suffolk. He was also invited to all the weddings of the Queens children. Although this was the case, Duleep was a disposed monarch of the Punjab and living in exile from his kingdom. He was unaware of his history, heritage and rightful place as the ruler of Punjab.

Due to his passion for shooting, he bought Hatherop Castle in Gloucestershire where he lived a life of a squire and enjoyed the comforts of the rich. Duleep got married in 1864 to Maharani Bamba and started a family. As his family grew, Duleep purchased Elveden Hall in Suffolk to bring up his family of six.

Duleeps mother Maharani Jinda escaped the clutches of the East India Company and travelled to England to find her son. When she did, she informed him of his Sikh heritage and his lost kingdom the Punjab. This was the time that Duleep Singh returned to his Sikh roots and took the oath to return to his religion. Once Duleep discovered his real identity, he started asking questions about his wealth and land in the Punjab. This was questioned in a document the annexation of the Punjab which was not received well by the British government. Duleep was highly critical of the government and demanded answers about his rights as the ruler of Punjab. The government was reluctant and scared for the prince to return to the Punjab anticipating a Sikh uproar if the true prince returned to his people. They tried to buy him with £50,000 which he refused. Duleep attempted to leave the UK for the Punjab on several occasions but was stopped by the government. Duleep made his way to Paris in 1893 where he died a poor and broken man. His body was not sent back to the Punjab as he requested but buried in Elveden Church next to his mother’s body. In 1999 Prince Charles unveiled a life style statue of the Maharaja riding a horse in Thetford.

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