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Maharaja Duleep Singh

(1838-1893), Maharaja of Lahore

Sitter in 6 portraits
Duleep Singh, the last Maharaja of the Sikh Empire, succeeded 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.. In 1848, aged ten years old, Singh was separated from his mother who was regarded as a threat to the British empire. He was removed from the Punjab, his title and power devolved. He was forced to surrender or 'gift' the world's largest cut diamond, known as the Koh-i-Noor diamond, to Queen Victoria. Without his family around him and living in a predominantly Christian household under the care of Dr Login, Singh's cultural identity was steadily erased. At the age of fifteen, he converted to Christianity. 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. A friendship of sorts ensued with Queen Victoria who eventually became godmother to Prince Victor Albert Jay Duleep Singh. His life was lived under scrutiny and prohibitions by the British, he was allowed to return to India only twice, both 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, 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

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'Upwards of five hundred photographic portraits of the most celebrated personages of the age', 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  - NPG x139661

'Upwards of five hundred photographic portraits of the most celebrated personages of the age'

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
NPG x139661

Maharaja Duleep Singh, by Antoine Claudet - NPG x1506

Maharaja Duleep Singh

by Antoine Claudet
albumen carte-de-visite, circa 1864
NPG x1506

Maharaja Duleep Singh, by Daniel John Pound, after  John Jabez Edwin Mayall - NPG D10941

Maharaja Duleep Singh

by Daniel John Pound, after John Jabez Edwin Mayall
line and stipple engraving, 1854 or after
NPG D10941

Maharaja Duleep Singh, by Richard James Lane, after  Franz Xaver Winterhalter - NPG D22439

Maharaja Duleep Singh

by Richard James Lane, after Franz Xaver Winterhalter
lithograph, 1854
NPG D22439

Maharaja Duleep Singh ('Men of the Day. No. 266.'), by Sir Leslie Ward - NPG D44094

Maharaja Duleep Singh ('Men of the Day. No. 266.')

by Sir Leslie Ward
chromolithograph, published in Vanity Fair 18 November 1882
NPG D44094

Maharaja Duleep Singh, by Sir Leslie Ward, printed by  Vincent Brooks, Day & Son - NPG D3912

Maharaja Duleep Singh

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

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