THE LOST PRINCESS OF COORG
steel engraving on India Paper, fine impression, 12 x 6 ins. mounted on thick paper,
"Chikka Veerarajendra was the first deposed Indian ruler granted permission to sail to Britain on the ground that he wanted his daughter to be raised as a Christian and given a Western education. But the real reason for the Raja to visit England was to fight a legal battle against the British East India Company to claim interest on the deposits with the Company made by his uncle Dodda Veerarajendra. The British refused to pay him the interest on the ground that "What is in the treasury belongs to the people of Kodagu, and will be used for their benefit". The British saw the visit of the Raja of Kodagu to England as an opportunity to convert a member of an Indian royal family to Christianity. Not only that. The clever British imperialists saw an opportunity to form a matrimonial alliance between the Princess of Coorg Gowramma and Maharaja Duleep Singh of Punjab who too had sailed to England. The British hoped that a union between Maharaja Duleep Singh and Princess Gowramma would act as a catalyst in encouraging voluntary conversion to Christianity amongst the upper castes in India, especially the Hindu rulers. Belliappa says: "For the evangelists, there was the delightful possibility of eventually a predominant Christian India emerging, which would owe allegiance to the Church of England." Queen Victoria took a personal liking for Princess Gowramma and was personally present for her baptism ritual performed by none other than the Archbishop of Canterbury. Her Majesty amazed everyone by announcing herself as the godmother of Princess Gowramma. The Queen presented Gowramma a leather bound autographed copy of the Holy Bible, embellished with gold - plated trimmings. Much to the disappointment of the British, Maharaja Duleep Singh was not keen to enter into matrimony with Gowramma. He was put off by the coquettish behaviour of the Coorg Princess who was quite a flirt, making eyes at all the young men, including the then Prince of Wales. Though Duleep Singh was fond of the Princess, he was not keen on taking her as a life partner. Gowramma's affair with a stable boy led to a major scandal in the British high society which disappointed the Queen. Maharaja Duleep Singh played matchmaker and helped in forming an alliance between the 19 – year - old Gowramma and 50 – year - old Col. John Campbell, who had served in the Army in India. Campbell, the blue - eyed, handsome and dashing equestrian was mainly interested in the wealth of the Coorg Princess. After Chikka Veerarajendra lost his legal battle to claim interest for his deposits from the East India Company, Campbell began neglecting Gowramma whom he had married. The couple had a child named Edith Victoria Gowramma. Campbell, who was into gambling, began eyeing the Coorg Crown jewellery which had been handed over to her by Veerarajendra prior to his death. The developments devastated Gowramma who succumbed to tuberculosis when she was 23 years old. Soon after, Campbell vanished with the black bag containing the jewellery and was not seen after that. The disappearance of the Coorg Crown jewellery still continues to remain a mystery." - P. T. Bopanna, Star of Mysore review of "Victoria Gowramma, the Lost Princess of Coorg" by C. P. Belliappa.
Stock ref: 13089