Hafiz Abdul Karim(circa 1863-1909), Secretary and 'Munshi' to Queen Victoria
Sitter in 1 portrait
Born into a Muslim family, Abdul was privately schooled in Persian and Urdu. Travelling across North India into Afghanistan as a teenager, he worked as a 'vakil' for the Nawab of Jawara and later as a clerk at the jail in Agra. Recruited as an Indian servant for Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee, he was trained in English manners and etiquette. He first served Queen Victoria breakfast at Frogmore House on 23 June 1887. The Queen became interested in learning 'Hindustani' in order to converse with Abdul, and ordered further English tuition for him. As a loyal friendship ensued, Abdul was promoted to 'munshi' in August 1888. Queen Victoria praised him in her letters and journal, "I am so very fond of him" she wrote.
Watch a film clip on the sitter from the BBC Archive in the Media section below
by Robert Milne
printing-out paper cabinet card, 1897