Monday, May 9, 2011

The Former Maharaja of Jaipur

Crowds flooded the streets of Jaipur to mourn the death of its beloved Maharaja in April. Even though he had technically lost his title in 1971 due to a constitutional amendment, he was still regarded by many as His Royal Highness, the Maharaja of Jaipur.

Brigadier Sawai Bhawani Singh Bahadur’s birth was greeted with widespread rejoicing and delight because he was the first male heir to be born to the royal family

for generations. The fountains at the royal palaces overflowed with champagne, so he was given the nickname, Bubbles.

The Maharaja’s Career

The young boy attended Doon School in Dehradun and the prestigious Harrow. After this he decided to serve in the army. He became the CO of the 10th Parachute Regiment (one of the Special Forces regiments.) He was awarded the Mahavir Chakra, the second highest gallantry award, for his part in the Indo-Pakistani War in 1971. He also helped train the Mukti Bahini before the Bangladesh war. He became a Brigadier in 1974.

After his retirement, Singh Bahadur became the Indian High Commissioner to Brunei for some years. He was also an expert polo player and started the Jaipur World Cup of Polo. Singh Bahadur also ran for an election unsuccessfully, and ran many of his palaces as hotels.

The Maharaja’s Marriage

Singh Bahadur married Princess Padmini Devi in 1966. They had one daughter, Princess Diya Kumari. She attended the Maharani Gayatri Devi School for Girls. The former Maharaja’s stepmother, Gayatri Devi had started this school.

He adopted his grandson, Maharaj Kumar Padmandbh Singh as his heir in 2002.
The former Maharaja famously did not get along with his stepmother. However, he persuaded her to give some property and the secession rights to her grandchildren.

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