By John Hislop
A ceremonial jacket velvet jacket belonging to Duleep Singh, the youngest son of the legendary last Maharajah of the Punjab Ranjit Singh is to be sold at auction.
The ‘Lion of the Punjab’s coat and will be sold at auction by Lyon & Turnbull on 9 December 2009 along with other Indian artefacts and expected to raise some £60,000.
The jacket is accompanied by a pair of shoes belonging to the Maharajah which are estimated to go for a further £15,000.
Both are examples of the richly embroidered velvets worn by the Maharaja for his formal court events, showing high quality workmanship fit for an Indian Prince
The shoes and jacket were purchased from the Maharajah’s English estate, Elvenden Hall in the 1950’s.Duleep Singh was born in 1838 and ruled from the age of five.
After two wars with the British, he finally surrendered his Kingdom and the fames Koh-I-Noor diamond which his family owned, to the East India Company.
He was exiled to Britain where he became an instant favourite of Queen Victoria, and passed the time with the crème de la crème of Victorian high society.
He regularly shot game with the Prince of Wales at his numerous Highland and English estates.
After trying his hand at writing a West End play, standing for Parliament and playing the field, the deposed Sovereign became disillusioned by his surroundings and moved to France.
On 22 October 1893, he was tragically struck down with a stroke, dying alone and penniless in a Paris hotel room, far from the riches of the Punjab.
The sale will also offer a host of Indian artefacts including an 18th century enamelled belt buckle reputedly worn by Saadat Khan, the founder of the Oudh dynasty of Nawabs, a painting of Maharajah Jagat Singh II of Mewar and several other Indian miniature paintings.
In addition, an early painting of Ranjit Singh, valued at £8,000 will also go under the hammer.
Philip Gregory, a spokesman for Lyon and Turnbull in Edinburgh said: “The jacket has religious significance and it would be disrespectful to let anyone wear it.
“We have never sold anything like this before, and it’s great that the owner has chosen Edinburgh rather than London to sell it.
“Already there has been a lot of interest from India.”