When I look at the Golden Throne today, I can actually imagine being right there in the Court of Lahore. It is in the same pristine condition as it was 150 years ago. Can you tell me it would be left in that condition in India or Pakistan? I am sure it would have been melted down long ago. Its a piece of our history that may be in England but look at the millions of people all over the world coming to look at it and it is far more accessible there. I’ve worked with the V&A Museum and I know how much time, effort, and funding goes into the Golden Throne’s preservation. Every year the item is examined and treated with a detailed condition report made. I cannot imagine any other country making such an effort to preserve another country’s artifacts and heritage.

7. Your research led to the discovery of the burial place of Prince Victor Duleep Singh at Monte Carlo in 2003 you were one of the key figures in unearthing the gravestone of Maharani Jinda Kaur at a London cemetery in 2007. What else are you hoping to discover relating to Maharaja Duleep Singh and his family?

Rani Jinda was a huge discovery and finding her grave was a major milestone. I had her gravestone restored because it was broken in about six or seven pieces and it is now displayed at the Thetford Museum. When I started researching, we only knew the locations of the resting places of 3 of his 8 children. Now we have identified 7 who were buried or cremated. Princess Bamba never knew what happened to her youngest sister Pauline who was presumed to have died in an internment camp during war-torn France. Actually, we discovered she had contracted tuberculous and died in a sanitarium and was buried in an unmarked grave in France. We have now identified her resting place and I am going to have a proper headstone installed.

Princess Catherine and Princess Sophia were cremated and thus there were no graves. That just leaves Princess Irene to find now. She committed suicide in Monte Carlo by jumping off a cliff and I am hoping to locate her burial place and close the chapter on knowing where all the children were.

8. The British Sikh community commissioned a life-size statue of the Maharaja aloft a horse, which was unveiled by Prince Charles in Thetford in 1999. You have been instrumental so that Maharaja Duleep Singh and his family remain in the public eye and are remembered. What are your goals to ensure this?

Right now one of my projects is to install a bronze statue as a tribute to 3 of the Maharaja’s children, Prince Frederick, Princess Sophia and Princess Catherine, in the town square of Thetford. Prince Frederick established the Maharaja Duleep Singh museum there and was well recognized by the community for his work to prevent the closure of many churches. It is also not well known that Prince Frederick served many years in Halifax, Canada in his Military Service.

Princess Bamba emerged as a well -known figure in the suffragette movement. Earlier she went to Chicago to go to a medical college but she came back as she found a negative attitude towards women studying in the field and she also encountered a such a sheer amount of racism. This all discouraged her but in the end, she did marry a doctor - Dr. Sutherland.

Princess Catherine, the hidden sister, is not as well -known, lived in Germany and helped save so many Jewish families in Nazi Germany during the Second World War. Many of these family members still live in London and remain so grateful to Princess Catherine as if it wasn't for her interaction they would not be alive today - they would not have existed. Catherine is like our very own Schindler.

Caricature of the Maharaja from ‘Vanity Fair’, 1882
Caricature of the Maharaja from ‘Vanity Fair’, 1882 | Wikimedia Commons

9. Since you write so intimately about Maharaja Duleep Singh surely you can surmise that all of his actions and events in his life, what would he would have regretted most in his story?

For the Maharaja, if you were looking at what he would have done or not done, we should look at that fact that when he first came to England it was promised that this would be temporary as an educational sabbatical or holiday. Of course, when he got there he learned he could not return to India and was effectively exiled. Even his sons were never allowed to go to India. I think had he known this was going to be the case he would not have made that visit to England in the first place. I’m not saying ( had he stayed) he would have remained the Maharaja, but he would have been living a contented life in a nice estate like the other deposed rulers of India. His lineage, (which did not descend beyond any of his 8 children) probably would have continued on.

10. You have such as deep affection for history, strongly believing in the restoration, preservation and recording of historical events and data. Do you see the younger generation interested in Sikh History?

Definitely in the Western world: the UK, Canada and the USA. I've lectured in those countries and I’ve received emails and letters from those who are at my age when I started getting interested in the Duleep Singh story. When youngsters come up to me and say “you've inspired me to write and research on Sikh and Punjabi history” that makes me feel so proud and that I've done my little bit. These are steppingstones to pave way for more books to follow on the subject by these younger writers. It is so satisfying that I've done a small little bit just to guide them and encourage their interest further.


Cynthia Meera Frederick is the biographer of Maharaja Jagatjt Singh of Kapurthala. She lectures frequently on Punjab’s royal heritage.

Join us on our journey through India & its history, on LHI's YouTube Channel. Please Subscribe Here

Live History India is a first of its kind digital platform aimed at helping you Rediscover the many facets and layers of India’s great history and cultural legacy. Our aim is to bring alive the many stories that make India and get our readers access to the best research and work being done on the subject. If you have any comments or suggestions or you want to reach out to us and be part of our journey across time and geography, do write to us at contactus@livehistoryindia.com

Best of Peepul Tree - Our History Shop