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stardust Aug 22nd, 2004 05:23 AM

Indian Maharaja's Kumar-Singh. Who can tell me more?
I recently met a wonderful guy who's half Indian, half Belgian. Last night he confessed me his family is of high nobility and his grandfather is a Maharaja. His last name is Kumar-Singh, but that's all I know. It fascinates me on one hand, but scares me on the other. Can anybody tell me more about these Maharajas? I'd be very grateful.

Cicerone Aug 23rd, 2004 01:20 AM

Well, first of all, assuming the information is true, his grandfather WAS a Maharaja. Indian royalty were stripped of their titles and privy purses in 1974 by Indira Ghandi. While many people in India still respect and revere their former rulers, they in fact have no power and no titles which are recognized. Many of them turned their palaces into hotels, and many are now middle class people, the great wealth of earlier generations is gone. FYI, many local tribal leaders in India were "granted" noble status by the British Raj in the 16th, 17th and 18th century in return for keeping order in their provinces so that the British East India Company could continue to make huge profits, pay little tax, and do nothing to bring India forward socially or economically (a bit of cynicism on my part, but not far from the truth.)

Some suggestions for books on the subject are below. If you do a web search, you should also come up with a basic history of the nobility in India and their interplay with the British Raj and post-independence India.

Anne Morrow: Maharajahs of India. This is from 1986 and may be out of print, but you may find it in a library. It gives fascinating details about the lives of the fabulously wealthy maharajas.

Jan Morris/James Morris: Stones of Empire: The Buildings of the Raj 1983, The Spectacle of Empire: Style, Effect and the Pax Britannica.

Gayatri Devi: A Princess Remembers. This is the autobiography of the third and favorite wife of the late Maharajah of Jaipur. She was considered one of the most beautiful women in the world. When Jackie Kennedy went to India in 1961 or so, she stayed with the Princess and in the pictures, Jackie looks dowdy compared to her. She was from a royal family in east India. She led a very interesting life, met all kinds of leaders.

In my experience, a lot of Indians claim a connection to royalty. Kind of like in Boston, everyone has a relative who either signed the Declaration of Independence, or was a passenger on the Mayflower.. . .

Kumar and Singh are fairly common surnames in India, in fact, Singh is the surname of basically every Sikh in India. Has he told you what province/state his grandfather formerly ruled, I assume it is somewhere in the Punjab. If you have this information, you may be able to do a genealogy or other search on the web.

hobbes Aug 23rd, 2004 01:55 AM

Actually, he is more likely to be a Rajput Singh than a Sikh. Rajasthan as a state had the maximum number of principalities and thus a huge number of royalty. Quite likely he is descended from one of them - it is also the reason the state has so many heritage and palace hotels. If he is 3rd gen and half Belgian means his dad married a Belgian (given the surname). Interesting - among royalty in India quasi arranged marriages among classes of similar status are still common so this is likely to be quite a love marriage I guess. In India even tho they were stripped of their status years ago in smaller places esp royalty is still revered but I do not agree that in India many people claim royal lineage.

stardust Aug 23rd, 2004 06:03 AM

Thank you so much for these useful answers. On a 'competing' forum (won't mention the name here or the post will be removed as I noticed before) I putted the same question and all I got was nasty comments on how I could be so stupid to believe that and that he was just plain lying to me etc. I know he's from a decent background, so I for sure have reasons to believe him and I'm happy to have found some more information here. Thank you.

Rajhelp50 Aug 23rd, 2004 10:55 PM

A Kumar Singh Maharajah could be from Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh etc.

However there is nothing to be scared of as they are as "normal' as the next person. Many of them today are in politics, sports, hotels and industry. Most did not squander their wealth, have educated their children well, and invested wisely.

However I cannot understand his "confession" which kind of gives the impression that he is trying to hide the fact - why should he? Despite losing their status, members of former royal families are still held in high esteem by their former subjects.

stardust Aug 24th, 2004 03:21 AM

Maybe I used the wrong word, I'm not a native English speaker... he told me 'there's something I have to tell you I haven't dared to tell you before...'. I suppose he believes this is a part of his world and I had become important enough for him to know about it, while he hadn't told me before to make sure I wouldn't just like him for what he has instead of who he is. I was just curious if this would have any implications if we would move on. His family seems to be pretty open-minded, as his Indian father married his Belgian mother (they met while studying in the UK), but still... Thank you for the comment though.

Rajhelp50 Aug 24th, 2004 04:11 AM

Now if he is a nice young man, polite and attentive, and really cares for you, then....

irieblue Aug 24th, 2004 05:38 PM

Hi Stardust--

I am not sure and don't mean to get your hopes up but--I possibly might have stayed in his family's home??? It was in Jodhpur(famous for the pant type) and it was the Umaid Bhawan Palace. I talked with several people there both of the royal family and of the new hotel owners of the Amman group. I have some of the business cards and will check out what I have--just have to find them again :)!

Sounds wonderful--good luck!

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