Maharajah's personal effects to go under hammer

Maharajah's personal effects to go under hammer

That is the estimated price one will have to pay if one wishes to own a ceremonial jacket and the pair of shoes originally worn by Duleep Singh, the youngest son of Ranjit Singh and the last Maharajah of Punjab deposed by Lord Dalhousie in 1849. He was also Queen Victoria’s favourite Indian prince.

The two items will be put up for auction on Wednesday at Lyon & Turnbull, Scotland's oldest auction firm. Also going under the hammer will be a painting of Ranjit Singh, valued at £8,000-12,000.

The Edinburgh-based auction house says that the items will be part of its fine antiques auction. The auction will also feature several other Indian artifacts, such as an 18th century enamelled belt buckle reportedly worn by Saadat Khan, the founder of the Oudh dynasty of Nawabs, a painting of Maharajah Jagat Singh II of Mewar and several Indian miniature paintings.

To be sold under “Lot 124,” ruler-cricketer Duleep Singh’s jacket is described as “a fine example of the richly embroidered velvets worn by the Maharajah for formal court events, showing the high quality of workmanship fit only for an Indian Prince.” The jacket and the shoes were purchased from the Maharajah’s English estate Elveden Hall, in Suffolk, in the 1950s.

Duleep Singh was born on September 4, 1838, at the pinnacle of Sikh rule in the Punjab, and was crowned king when he turned five. He was separated from his mother during the two wars the Sikhs fought against the British, thanks to misleading ministers and irresponsible guardians. It resulted in the surrender of the family-owned Koh-i-Noor, the world’s most celebrated diamond which was spirited away to Britain and given over to Queen Victoria, and his ouster from power by the East India Company.

At the age of 15, he was exiled to Britain where he became a favourite of Queen Victoria and spent time with the crème de la crème of Victorian high society, shooting game with the Prince of Wales at his numerous Highland and English estates, and led a most extravagant and lavish lifestyle often above his means.

Duleep Singh was known as a fine shooter and a fashionable man with a taste for the finer things in life. But later in life, after trying his hand at writing a West End play, standing for Parliament, playing cricket, and remonstrating with the British Empire for the shortfall of his stipend, the deposed king became disillusioned and sought to make a stand against the British encouraged by the Fenians, the French underworld, and Tsarist Russia.