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Illustration of an Indian woman holding a flower
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Maharaja Dalip Singh dressing Prince Arthur in Indian costume

circa 1854


A watercolour showing the Maharaja Dalip Singh dressing Queen Victoria's third son, Prince Arthur, in Indian costume. Dalip Singh is shown kneeling to the left of Prince Arthur, adjusting the young boy's turban. The Maharaja is shown facing right in profile, dressed in nineteenth-century European clothing and a turban. Prince Arthur is shown standing, facing forward. Inscribed upper left: himself

Dalip Singh was the last Maharaja of the Sikh Empire. He was exiled in 1849 at the age of thirteen, following the British annexation of the Punjab in the Second Anglo-Sikh War. Dalip Singh arrived in London in 1854 and was received by Queen Victoria at Buckingham Palace on 1 July 1854. After their first meeting, the Queen described the young Maharaja in her journal as "16 & extremely handsome... [he] has a pretty, graceful & dignified manner. He was beautifully dressed & covered with diamonds". Dalip Singh was invited to stay with the Royal Family at Osborne that summer, where he continued to make a favourable impression on the Queen, who was later to become Godmother to the Maharaja's first child. In her journal entry of 22 August 1854, Queen Victoria describes Singh as "the truly amiable young Maharajah, who is so kind to the [Royal] Children, playing so nicely with them".

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