Victoria & Abdul
The True Story of the Queen's Closest ConfidanteBook - 2010
History's most unlikely friendship--this is the astonishing story of Queen Victoria and her dearestcompanion, the young Indian Munshi Abdul Karim.
In the twilight years of her reign, after the devastating deaths of hertwo great loves--Prince Albert and John Brown--Queen Victoria meets tall and handsome Abdul Karim, a humble servant from Agra waiting tables at her Golden Jubilee. The two form an unlikely bond and within a year Abdul becomes a powerful figure at court, the Queen's teacher, her counsel on Urdu and Indian affairs, and a friend close to her heart. This marked the beginning of the most scandalous decade in Queen Victoria's long reign. As the royal household roiled with resentment, Victoria and Abdul's devotion grew in defiance. Drawn from secrets closely guarded for more than a century, Victoria & Abdul is an extraordinary and intimate history of the last years of the nineteenth-century English court and an unforgettable view onto the passions of an aging Queen.
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"It was all to end soon for the Munshi [after the death of Queen Victoria on January 22, 1901]. The King [Edward VII] sent Princess Beatrice, Queen Alexandra and some guards to Frogmore Cottage where they demanded all the letters written by the Queen to the Munshi; they then burnt them in a bonfire outside the house. The King wanted no trace left of the relationship between his mother and the Munshi. Abdul Karim, the Queen's companion and teacher for 13 years, was ordered to leave the country and packed his bags like a common criminal." (p. 281)
"... Queen [Victoria] had left detailed instructions regarding the procedures to be followed after her death ... Once the coffin was arranged, [Dr. James] Reid called in the family and members of the Household to see the Queen for the last time. The Munshi [Abdul Karim] was summoned at the very end. He was allowed to spend a moment with his Queen and was the last person to see her alone. As he left the room, the members of the Royal family entered and the coffin was closed ... The Munshi sat in Arthur Cottage [later] that night, the tears silently pouring down his face. He prayed for the friend who had stood by him for the last 13 years and changed his life. To him, she had been more than the Empress of India ... She had been a friend, a mother and an inspiration. ..." (p. 277-278)
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