Maharaja Rajinder Singh

Maharaja Rajinder Singh (1872, r.1876-1900)
Maharaja of Patiala

Albumen print on carte-de-visite, c. 1875
Size: 4 x 2.5 in. (10.2 x 6.4 cm)

Inscription: HH the Maharajah of Puthala

Rajinder Singh was born on 25th May 1872 and was the son of Mohindra Singh. His father died prematurely and so he succeeded the throne when he was around three years old. He was the Maharaja only from 1876 to 1900 as he died following a riding accident.

He has been described as “the first reigning Prince to blend the elements of the English gentleman and Indian potentate.” He was the first Indian to own a car in 1892, and the first to own an aircraft as well.

He implemented reforms, including endowments for a woman’s hospital, orphanages, and training of troops. The Maharaja defied everyone when he married Florence Bryan, the daughter of his Irish horse master, persuading her to convert to the Sikh faith. The Irish composer, Thomas O’Brien Butler, who spent some time in India, dedicated a song composition to him.

This is a portrait of the Maharaja as a child, where he is standing and looking towards the right side. He has a sword in his right hand and is wearing glittering garments, and a turban with a protruding head jewel. He is also wearing a belt around his waist which is embroidered, as well as jewel crusted. In the background is a huge couch with fringe details on the bottom.