Friday, 11 December 2009

Duleep Singh's slippers sell for £18,000

Tribune India, London, December 11

Maharaja Duleep Singh’s slippers sold for £18,000 but his ceremonial jacket failed to find a buyer at an auction conducted by Lyon and Turnbull in Edinburgh. Experts were hopeful the jacket would sell, as it reached over £52,000 before bidding stopped.

Victoria Crake of Lyon & Turnbull said: “We are pleased that the slippers found a buyer. The jacket was so nearly there; with so much interest out there, we are currently speaking with the vendor to see if a deal can still be done.”

The owners of the slippers, who wish to remain anonymous and are private collectors, said: “We travelled to Edinburgh today for the sale and were planning to bid on both the jacket and the slippers. We successfully bought the slippers, but sadly the jacket was out of our reach. The slippers will be kept in the UK in our private collection of items belonging to Duleep Singh. They have major historical importance and are unique,” they said. “We have seen interest in all things Indian surge this year since the exhibition Maharajahs ‘The Splendour of India’s Royal Courts’ at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.”

Duleep Singh was the youngest son of the legendary Ranjit Singh, the Lion of Punjab. In 1843, Duleep Singh was crowned the Sovereign of Land of the Five Rivers at the tender age of five and found himself at the head of the one of the most powerful independent kingdoms in the Indian sub-continent and a thorn in the advancement of the British Empire.

With misleading ministers and irresponsible guardians, two wars were fought against the British, resulting in the minor Duleep Singh’s separation from his mother, surrendering of the Koh-i-Noor diamond and removal from power. He was exiled to Britain, where he became an instant favourite of Queen Victoria.

He passed his time with the crème de la crème of Victorian high society and led a most extravagant and lavish lifestyle, often above his means.

His plans for resurrecting himself failed and he was tragically struck down with a stroke, dying alone and penniless in a Paris hotel room on October 22, 1893, far from the riches of Punjab. — PTI

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