London: Abdul Karim was a 24-year-old
Indian servant of Queen Victoria, who gained her affection in
the final 15 years of her reign. Their relationship sent shock-waves through the royal court, and ended up being one of the
most scandalous periods of her 64-year-reign.
But, a new archive of letters, pictures and Karim`s
"lost diary", held secretly by his family for over a century,
sheds new light on the controversial relationship between the
Queen and the youth from Agra who rose from a royal waiter to
becoming her decorated Indian secretary.
In fact, Indian author Shrabani Basu has discovered
the documents after penning `Victoria & Abdul` -- her book on
the remarkable relationship between the Queen and her servant,
`The Daily Telegraph` reported.
The documents tell the story of how Karim arrived in
England in 1887 and quickly gained the affection of a Monarch
42 years his senior.
"I came to England as orderly to the Queen... It is a
much higher position than the orderly of the British Army who
is simply a private soldier selected to attend an officer as a
personal servant carrying his orders etc," Karim writes in his
On arriving in London on the recommendation of Dr
Tyler who his superior officer at India`s Central Jail, Karim
notes, he visits the zoo and Madame Tussauds. Yet sightseeing
was not Karim`s prime purpose; he is there to meet the Queen.
He recounts the first audience: "Dr Tyler and I were
instructed to take our station near the dining room and wait
her Majesty`s coming. I was somewhat nervous at the approach
of the Great Empress who soon entered accompanied by HRH the
Duke of Connaught and Princess Beatrice.
"Dr Tyler at once did homage by kneeling, whilst I
did the same in Oriental style. I presented nazars, or gifts
by exposing, in the palms of my hands, a gold mohar (a coin)
which Her Majesty touched and remitted as is Indian custom.
The Queen was thereafter pleased to speak to Dr Tyler and so
ended my interview with the Empress of India."