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Duration 42:31

Sovereign, squire and rebel: Maharajah Duleep Singh and the heirs of a lost kingdom

At the age of five years, Duleep Singh found himself on the golden throne of the Punjab, one of the most powerful independent kingdoms in India and a thorn in the advancement of the British Empire. After the Sikh Wars against the British Empire, the infant ruler was separated from his mother, surrendered the famed Koh-i-Noor diamond and was removed from power by the East India Company.
Effectively exiled to Britain, he became an instant favourite of Queen Victoria and an exotic party accessory. But after trying his hand at writing a West End play, standing for Parliament and remonstrating with the British Empire for the shortfall of his stipend, the Maharajah became disillusioned by his surroundings and sought to make a stand against the tyrannical establishment.
Peter Bance is an independent researcher, historian and author on Anglo-Sikh History and has published a number a books on the subject, including two on Maharajah Duleep Singh. He has amassed the largest collection of Maharajah Duleep Singh artefacts which has been exhibited worldwide.
This talk was part of our diversity week event in November, highlighting the diversity of The National Archives’ collection.