Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Koh-i-Nur Diamond (Part 2): Duleep Singh

Duleep Singh, Queen Victoria's Sketch
Photo Credit: London Evening Standard

by Angela Magnotti Andrews

Queen Victoria’s guilty conscience and propensity to take in the misfortunate led her to take this young king under her wing after she converted him to her brand of Christianity in 1854. She was smitten by his charm and infallible manners, and she looked after him under what can only be called a Christian duty to prevent him from reverting back to his old barbarian ways.

Duleep Singh enjoyed an allowance paid by the state, accompanied Victoria and Albert on many family trips, and played with the royal children frequently. He and Prince Albert, who dabbled in photography, spent many hours together developing pictures in the castle dark room. Always one for sentimentality, Queen Victoria had a portrait of him commissioned, and he returned the favor by wearing a miniature of the queen around his neck.

Despite her ministrations and affections, Duleep did indeed return to his former “barbarian” ways. He suffered a severe bout of mental illness in the 1880s, replete with delusions of reclaiming his seat of power in India. His delusions led him to Russia where he allied himself with some nefarious characters in an attempt to start an Anglo-Russian war. Of course, Victoria was absolutely furious and considered his actions a serious betrayal of her trust and affection for him.

To Be Continued...
1. Rappaport, Helen. Queen Victoria: A Biographical Companion. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2003.
2. All About Gemstones. "Diamond Mines of the World: India's Diamonds of Golconda." Accessed August 6, 2012.

*Clip-art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

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