THE MAHARAJA OF RAJPIPLA is the Peter Pan of the Ruling Princes of India. Aged forty, he is really ageless, though his youngest son (Indrajeet Singhji, father of author Indra Vikram Singh) is eight and his eldest (Rajendra Singhji, who later succeeded to the title of Maharaja) is about to get married. Known as “Pip”, he accentuates the nickname by having one of his racehorses known as “Mr. Pip”. “Pip’s” greatest ambition is to win the Derby, and to-morrow, if all goes well, this will be realised by Windsor Lad, which, as I write, is third favourite.
“Pip” has two selves – the one on the surface when in England, and the other when he is in his native State – an hour-and-a-half by air from Bombay. In England he is Bohemian, lighthearted, shy, merry, diffident. In his home he is responsible, extremely grand, very much a king, and tremendously respected. Indeed, he is a very good ruler, and his millions of subjects are prosperous, and proud of him.
He has an enormous palace, a mole on his cheek, a fleet of motor-cars, a lasting devotion to cameras, a vast guest-house, a passion for cigars, and a mansion on the river. When he arrives at the first or last named, an electric light shines on the roof. He personally supports his own State army. Polo matches take place every day from October to April when he is there. Guests are invited to take part in all kinds of big-game hunting, and the latest copy of the New Yorker is always on tap.
Yet it is England, where he is entitled to a salute of thirteen guns, which is his spiritual home. He goes to all the race meetings. He has the Manor House at Old Windsor. And at his Sunday-afternoon parties you never know whom you are going to meet – Maharajas, film magnates or Mollisons – they come and go incessantly, under the courteous eye of “Pinky”, his charming little A.D.C.
“Pip” is really a delightful person. He is an admirable host, thoughtful, kindly, and permanently youthful. In India he has one elephant – Raj Mangal. In England he has one object – hospitality. I hope very much that he leads in the winner to-morrow.
For two years he has headed the list of winning owners in India, and he has already won the Irish Derby and the Irish 2000 Guineas with Embargo.
England has known him annually for thirteen years from April to October, as a result of which he has become the most un-Oriental potentate of my acquaintance.
(Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email email@example.com).