9781909930667

'A fascinating read by a passionate writer.' --Peter Bance, Author of Sovereign, Squire & Rebel: Maharajah Duleep Singh

Duleep Singh’s Statue

East Anglia's Lost Maharajah

Fraser Harrison

“We found Fraser Harrison’s book insightful and compelling.”–The Singh Twins, Painters of Casualty Of War: A Portrait of Maharaja Duleep Singh

At the age of five Duleep Singh became the last Maharajah of the Sikh kingdom of the Punjab. He was still a child when the British annexed the Punjab in 1849 and forced him to sign a punitive treaty. He was made to give up his throne and surrender the Koh-i-noor diamond to Queen Victoria, but was allowed to keep his title. Duleep Singh spent most of his adult life exiled in England. As a married man, he lived in Elveden Hall, Suffolk, turning his house into an Indian palace and the grounds into a famous shooting estate where he entertained the future Edward VII. Embittered by his treatment at the hands of the British government, he finally sold his estate and made an ill-fated attempt to recover his throne. Thwarted by the authorities, he spent his last days in Paris, separated from his family. He married again and embarked on a doomed plan to persuade the Czar of Russia to invade the Punjab. In 1893, at the age of fifty-five, he died in Paris. Duleep Singh’s Statue provides a concise biography of the Maharajah’s colourful life, stressing the humiliations imposed by the British on the last ruler of the Sikhs. Yet Duleep Singh’s legacy refused to disappear. In 1993 the Sikh community wanted to mark the centenary of the Maharajah’s death. Their initial request to have a monument placed in Elveden proved controversial and was rejected. An alternative site was chosen on Butten Island in nearby Thetford. Duleep Singh’s Statue tells the story of the statue and the battles fought by the Sikhs to create their monument. The statue of Duleep Singh on his horse was finally unveiled by the Prince of Wales in 1999. The Maharajah remains an important figure for Sikhs, especially those in Britain, and the Thetford statue attracts many thousands of Sikh visitors. The significance of the last Maharajah and his statue relates both to the past, when the Sikhs had their own sovereign kingdom, and the present as modern Sikhs find their identity in contemporary Britain.

After working for a spell as a publisher, Fraser Harrison left London to write and live in Suffolk, where he has remained for more than forty years. He has written on a variety of subjects, including Victorian sexuality, the Suffolk countryside, childhood, South Dakota and asylum seekers. He has also written two novels.

£12.99 paper

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240 pages
August 2018
ISBN: 9781909930667