Maharaja Dalip Singh

Between Worlds

Dalip Singh (1838-93) was born in Lahore, the youngest son of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Rani Jindan Kaur. The last Sikh ruler of the Punjab, Dalip Singh was only five years old when he inherited the throne. The British government claimed his kingdom in 1846, and the young king relinquished his title and property, converted to Christianity and surrendered the famous Koh-i-noor diamond to Queen Victoria. In return, he was given a pension on condition that he remained obedient to the British government.

In 1854, Dalip Singh visited London where he was received officially at Buckingham Palace. He was much admired by the queen, and grew close to the royal family. In 1864, he married Bamba Müller who was part-Ethiopian and part-German. They resided at Elveden, their estate on the Norfolk-Suffolk border, and had six children.

In a letter to The Times in 1882, he publicised his discontent with the British government's refusal to increase his stipend. He also aired his grievances about the loss of his kingdom. Such declarations alienated the maharaja from the Queen. Later, he converted back to Sikhism and, after his campaign for restitution failed, he settled in Paris. He was reconciled with Queen Victoria in 1890 but died three years later in France. His body was brought back to England and he was buried at his beloved Elveden.

Four Kings | William Ansah Sessarakoo| Mai| Joseph Brant| Bennelong and Yemmerrawanne| Sake Dean Mahomed| Sara Baartman| Raja Rammohun Roy| Maharaja Dalip Singh

Maharaja Dalip Singh by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, 1854 Oil on canvas, 2038 x 1095mm Lent by Her Majesty the Queen

Maharaja Dalip Singh
by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, 1854
Oil on canvas, 2038 x 1095mm
Lent by Her Majesty the Queen



Duleep Singh, by Sir Leslie Ward, printed by  Vincent Brooks, Day & Son, published 18 November 1882 - NPG  - © National Portrait Gallery, London

Duleep Singh
by Sir Leslie Ward, printed by Vincent Brooks, Day & Son
published 18 November 1882
NPG D3912