When the personal life of a celebrity is at stake, all of us may feign disinterest, but secretly love the scandal. But if the celebrity has a royal connection, you may be forgiven to disregard propriety and obligation to show respect.
But alas, we have been deprived of so many Indian royal secrets and scandals, either by brilliant PR professionals or by being at a rarely read page in the newspapers.
So we thought, why not bring the best royal secrets and scandals to make you think ‘even royal people are crazy, so it is okay if I am.’
Manvendra Singh Gohil
Perhaps the most scandalous story that has lapsed from people’s gossip rounds at tea breaks is the homosexuality of Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil, the son and probable heir of the Maharaja of Rajpipla in Gujarat. Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil spent much of his life as a closeted gay man. The news of his coming out on March 14, 2006, became a matter of countrywide criticism.
His effigies were burnt, people heckled and teased him in his own town, which ultimately resulted in his own family disowning him for bringing shame on his and their royal stature. Poor Prince! We wish he had been born a decade later, so by the time he was ready to come out, he would not be shamed, but accepted.
Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala
Bhupinder Singh of Patiala was perhaps the most famous maharaja of Patiala, for varied reasons. Some say it was because of his opulent and lavish lifestyle. He was the first man in India to own aircraft bought from the United Kingdom in 1910. He even had an airstrip built in Patiala for it.
Bhupinder was a connoisseur of medals and had the world’s largest collection of medals. According to legend, Maharaja Bhupinder Singh would be driven in a motorcade of 20 Rolls Royce cars.
He was also a great cricketer. He was captain of the Indian cricket team that visited England in 1911 and played in 27 first-class cricket matches between 1915 and 1937. For the season of 1926/27, he played as a member of the Marylebone Cricket Club. He donated the Ranji Trophy in honor of Kumar Shri Ranjitsinhji, Jam Sahib of Nawanagar. He was selected as the captain of India on its first Test tour of England in 1932 but dropped out for reasons of health two weeks before departure.
But the scandalous side of his life is perhaps the most infamous. Bhupinder Singh had married 10 times in the course of his lifetime, and had innumerable consorts, leading to a total of at least 88 children. Some even say that he, once every year, used to parade naked before his large harem of wives. Reasons? That is a mystery we may never solve.
Sir Osman Ali Khan
The last Nizam of Hyderabad was himself a curiosity. Being the richest man in the world, you’d think that he would have been lavish, and he was. But he was something totally different to that too; he was the world’s richest miser.
He was a peculiar man. He had a £50 million ostrich-egg sized diamond for a paperweight, but he also knitted his own socks, wore the same patched clothes for months and pinched cigarettes from his guests.
The legend goes that once he wanted a new blanket to keep him warm and ordered a servant to buy him a new one, but with strict instructions- not to spend more than 25 rupees. The aide came back empty-handed because a new blanket cost 35 rupees. So the Nizam made do with his threadbare old blanket.
The Nizam, terrified of a military annexation, hid the bulk of his vast wealth in lorries and trucks and hid them in a secret underground cellar in the basement of one of his palaces. But when he learned that mice had nibbled away £3m of his stashed wealth, he was least bothered.
True, that even the tiniest bit of juice in the news is amplified when there is a royal involved. but at the end of the day, we’re all individuals and have the right to go through life and handle its problems inside the four walls of their own home.