While writing about Kohinoor, History books generally refer to Lady Login’s book-“Lady Login’s Recollections, Court Life and Camp Life 1820-1904”. This book deserves a great amount of appreciation as it brings to light the life of Maharaja Duleep Singh.
However, there is a particular account which does not fit in correctly when all parameters are considered. This account is about Maharaja Duleep Singh “tendering” the Kohinoor to Queen Victoria.
According to Lady Login, when in 1854 on Queen Victoria’s desire, Maharaja gave sittings to Mr. Winterhalter for his full-length portrait, Queen Victoria asked Lady Login to find out if Maharaja wanted to see the Kohinoor again. Thus reluctantly Lady Login asked Duleep Singh and he gave his yes. Kohinoor was shown to Duleep Singh by Queen herself in presence of Lady Ely(the Lady-in-waiting), Sir Charles Phipps and the equerry besides Lady Login. Duleep Singh after watching the Kohinoor for long then placed it on Queen’s hand saying that: “It is to me, Ma’am, the greatest pleasure thus to have the opportunity, as a loyal subject, of myself tendering to my Sovereign the Kohinoor!”
Lady Login’s above-mentioned account is very dubious. Lady Login writes that when upon instructions of Queen she asked Maharaja Duleep Singh if he wanted to see the Kohinoor, Duleep Singh replied that :”I was but a child, an infant, when forced to surrender it by treaty; but now that I am a man, I should like to have it in my power to place it myself in her hand!
This above paragraph clearly reflects the dubious nature of this account. This specific version has been written in order to diffuse the claim of Maharaja Duleep Singh and to distort history.
Interestingly, Maharaja Duleep Singh was claiming Kohinoor from Queen Victoria in 1889. He called the Kohinoor his property, his personal possession. So, therefore until British find a way to justify Kohinoor’s possession by the Queen, the Kohinoor’s demand by Duleep Singh would always sound valid. Therefore they concocted a beautiful story and implied that Duleep Singh himself tendered the Kohinoor to Queen Victoria in 1854!
However, they left many loopholes which counter their claim. The reasons are:
a) Lady Login says that at the time of writing this account (of Duleep Singh handing over Kohinoor to the Queen) no one, who according to her was present in the room, is now alive, i.e. Queen Victoria is dead, Maharaja Duleep Singh is dead, Lady Ely, Sir Charles Phipps and the equerry is also dead. Only she is the one left while she is writing this account. So the question is who can testify Lady Login’s account?
b) Queen Victoria has herself written her diary(journal) which is accessible to all researchers. No one ever has referred to Queen Victoria’s diary to provide backing to Lady login’s claim. Queen loved Duleep Singh, thus if ever she desired Duleep Singh to see Kohinoor or had shown it to him, she would have definitely mentioned about it in her account. But there is no reference to it.
Queen Victoria wrote in her Journal on 10 July 1854 that ‘Winterhalter was in ecstasies at the beauty and nobility of bearing of the young Maharaja. He was very amiable and patient, standing so still and giving a sitting of upwards of 2 hrs’.
So if the Queen can write about Duleep Singh’s portrait being made by Winterhalter, why didn’t she write about Kohinoor being shown to Duleep Singh?
c) Maharaja Duleep Singh wrote a letter to Queen on 23rd Feb 1889 which is available and in that letter, he asks for his Kohinoor to be given back to him which Duleep says was looted from him. How can Duleep Singh ask from Victoria the Kohinoor which he himself placed on her hand in 1854?
d) Lady Login’s account also has some important mistakes which further lead to the fact that this story has been made up by Login.
She says that when Queen desired her to ask Duleep if he wanted to see the Kohinoor again, then she says that she was very perturbed about asking Duleep about Kohinoor. She writes “there was no other subject that so filled the thoughts and conversation of the Maharajah, his relatives and dependants!”
So the important point to note is that in 1854, there was “No Relative” of Maharaja Duleep Singh with him in England. S. Thakur Singh Sandhanwalia, Duleep’s blood cousin went to stay with him only in 1884!
e) Lastly, even is the above account was correct, then also, Duleep was a mere child of 16 when he placed the Kohinoor on Queen’s hand. He was having no family, relatives besides him, and he looked upto Queen herself for everything. He was sustaining on their pension. So, this act can also not be said to have been done willingly. Secondly, why didn’t the Queen allow Duleep Singh to be sketched with Kohinoor when already Winterhalter was making his portrait? She herself showed the Kohinoor to Duleep Singh without his asking for it!
Thus this account of Lady Login which is referred everywhere by all historians is filled with very many discrepancies and is most probably a propaganda.
The author of the article Sardar Damandeep Singh Sandhanwalia is a descendent of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
“I belong to the family of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. S. Thakur Singh Sandhanwalia was my natural ancestor who brought Maharaja Duleep Singh back into the Sikh Faith. S. Thakur Singh was the First Founder and President of the Singh Sabha Movement which was founded in Amritsar on 1st October 1873. Also, he was appointed the Wazir or Prime Minister of the Government-in-exile formed by Maharaja Duleep Singh. Later S. Thakur Singh’s natural son S. Gurdit Singh Sandhanwalia was adopted by Maharaja Duleep Singh in 1889 and also my great-grandfather was adopted and brought up by Princess Sophia and Princess Bamba(daughters of Maharaja Duleep Singh). ”
For further information please see: “Sikh Encyclopedia”, the link is: https://www.facebook.com/SikhEncyclopedia/
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