"History is a commentary on the various and continuing incapabilities of men. What is history? History is women following behind with the bucket."
[Mrs Lintott, "The History Boys" by Alan Bennett]
Sunday, November 27, 2011
The Lost Princess
Engraving by E. Graves after F. Winterhalter, 1858
In my quest to discover the lesser-known or unusual goddaughters of Queen Victoria, I have read about the five daughters of Maharajah Duleep Singh all of whom seem to have been afflicted by the infamous curse of the Koh-in-Noor diamond (a convoluted and lengthy tale!) but in the process I also came across a recent book by Indian author, C P Belliappa, entitled Victoria Gowramma: The Lost Princess of Coorg, who was the first of the Queen's Indian goddaughters to be baptised and later confirmed as a Christian.
Apparently the Queen had hoped to marry the Princess off to Duleep Singh, but the match did not eventuate as Duleep had his eye elsewhere. Instead, she married a much older British soldier, Lt. Col. John Campbell, had one child and then died very young aged about 23 in 1864. She is buried at Brompton Cemetery in London.
More about the book and the Princess can be read in this article from The Hinduhere and also this review.
Frontispiece, Lady Login's Recollections
Lady Login's Recollections about court and camp life arealso worth reading as it covers in some detail the guardianship, encounter with Duleep Singh, and marriage of Princess Victoria Gauramma [sic. Gauramina] to Lady Login's brother, John Campbell, and also gives some information on her daughter, Edith Victoria Gauramma Campbell, born in London in 1861 and who became the subject of a court case over guardianship after her father disappeared in mysterious circumstances.
Lady Login's description of this oddly dressed and lonely orphan at the age of 7 or 8 being unable to read or write properly, simply known as "Gip" or "Gipsey" and who never had any friends apart from a page boy, make for poignant reading. She had no idea who Queen Victoria was and their first encounter shows that the Queen was very kind towards her and much enjoyed meeting the guileless child.
Edith Victoria married Henry Edward Yardley in Kent in 1882. According to Mr Belliappa, some of her descendants may have eventually made their way to Australia.