Maharaja Duleep Singh(1838-1893), Maharaja of Lahore
Sitter in 6 portraits
Duleep Singh was the last Maharaja of the Sikh Empire, succeeding his late father Ranjit Singh at the age of five. The British conquest of the Punjab saw the passing of the 1846 Treaty of Lahore, which handed administration of the state and the protection of the Maharaja over to the British government. Singh's mother was regarded as a dangerous influence on him and the British forced her into exile. In 1848, when he was just ten years old, Singh was removed from the Punjab, his title and power devolved, and he was forced to surrender the world's largest cut diamond, known as the Koh-i-Noor diamond, to Queen Victoria. Granted permission to travel, he arrived in London in 1854, staying at Claridges Hotel before being invited by Queen Victoria to stay with the Royal family at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. Without his family around him and living in a predominantly Christian household under the care of Dr Login, Singh's cultural identity was steadily eroded. At the age of fifteen, he converted to Christianity. A friendship of sorts ensued with Queen Victoria who eventually became godmother to Prince Victor Albert Jay Duleep Singh. However, he only returned to India twice, each of them short, controlled visits; once to bring his mother out of exile to live with him in Britain and then to take her body back to be buried in India. He eventually became embittered by his exile and loss of sovereignty, converting back to Sikhism. He died in Paris; his last wish to be buried in India was not honoured and he was instead buried at Elveden Hall, his former family residence while in England.
Watch a film clip on the sitter from the BBC Archive in the Media section below
by Frederick Holland Mares, after Disdéri, and Camille Silvy, and Duroni & Murer, and Émile Desmaisons, and John Jabez Edwin Mayall, and Herbert Watkins, and William Edward Kilburn, and Horatio Nelson King, and John & Charles Watkins, and James
albumen carte-de-visite, 1863
by Sir Leslie Ward
chromolithograph, published in Vanity Fair 18 November 1882