- "I have petitioned the government several times, but they withhold their permission. Do not be fooled by appearances, Miss Frye. I am in many ways a prisoner."
- ―Duleep on being trapped in Britain, 1868.[src]
Duleep Singh (1838 – 1893), also known as Dalip Singh or the Black Prince of Perthshire, was the last Maharaja of the Sikh Empire and the youngest son of Ranjit Singh, ruling from 1843 to 1846. He was also an associate of, and great-uncle to, the Assassin Henry Green.
Exiled to Britain when he was fifteen, Duleep befriended Queen Victoria, who would go on to become the godmother to several of his children. After his mother passed away in 1863, he began to lobby for India's independence from the British Empire.
Exile to Britain
- Evie: "Do you miss India?"
- Duleep: "I remember... that my mother smelled of cinnamon. And when she cradled me in her arms in the summer heat, I would hold so still that she fell asleep. When I lost my kingdom, it hurt, but truly, when they took my mother away..."
- —Duleep explaining his attachment to his home country, 1868.[src]
Duleep was the youngest son of Ranjit Singh and became the last Maharaja of the Sikh Empire at the age of five, after four of his predecessors were assassinated. His mother, Maharani Jind Kaur, ruled in his stead as Regent for a time, but she was imprisoned following the First Anglo-Sikh War.
In April of 1849, Duleep was introduced to his new guardian, Dr. John Login, who traveled with the boy when the latter was exiled to Britain roughly five years later. Following his arrival in England, Duleep was introduced to Queen Victoria, who took an immediate liking to the boy and later became godmother to several of his children.
In 1856, he attempted to contact his mother, sending letters and emissaries, all of which were intercepted by the British in India. However, Duleep persisted and, aided by Login, eventually received permission to see her in January of 1861, ending their separation, which had lasted over thirteen years. No longer seen as a threat to British interests in India, the Maharani was permitted to return to the United Kingdom with her son. After two years of teaching Duleep about his Sikh heritage, Jind Kaur passed away in 1863.
Reclaiming his birthright
- Politician: "The Queen has supplied you with an annual income for God knows how long, and now you bite the hand that feeds you?"
- Duleep: "It is not a matter of money. I cannot stand idle and watch my homeland subjected to the yoke of an outsider's rule. My people are treated as slaves. I will die poor a thousand times over if only to see them free."
- —Duleep arguing with a British politician, 1868.[src]
In 1868, Duleep was asked by his great-nephew, Henry Green, to procure architectural plans of Buckingham Palace. However, he was foiled in this endeavor, as the schematics had already been obtained by men in the employ of Crawford Starrick. Duleep subsequently told Henry, and his acquaintance Evie Frye, where the plans had been taken, so they could get them back.
Ultimately, Henry and Evie did not succeed in acquiring the schematics, leading the latter to contact Duleep again later on. Passionate as he was about returning to his home country, the Maharaja bartered with Evie; in exchange for her help in recruiting politicians to his cause, Duleep would tell her where she could find copies of the plans she sought.
In between escorting politicians to their destinations, Duleep spoke with Evie on a variety of topics, including his attempts at returning to India, her parents and her relationship with Henry. After bringing William Ewart Gladstone, who had been quite abrasive during his conversation with the Maharaja, to the Sinopean Club, Duleep told Evie that the plans she sought were located in the White Drawing Room in Buckingham Palace. The two then bid each other goodbye.