Excerpts from ‘A Maharaja’s Turf’ ….. 14 – Chapter 6 : A friend’s accolade to Maharaja Sir Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla

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Sunday Graphic and Sunday News                                               June 10, 1934

RAJPIPLA AT HOME

Princely Hospitality of the Man Who Won the Derby:

By V.C. BUCKLEY

As a personal friend of the owner of Windsor Lad, the Derby winner, I can say none more deserved to win. He is the kindest, simplest and most hospitable person one could wish to meet.

Whether at Windsor, where he owns an old manor house and stays each year for the summer, or in his State in India with its 250,000 population over which he rules, or at his residence in Bombay, he always has a smiling welcome for his many friends.

When the Maharajah of Rajpipla says, “Come out to India and stay with me,” he means it – not like many people who have a habit of issuing invitations which are not really meant.

MAGNIFICENT HOSPITALITY

When I visited him in India it was characteristic that he should send a special railway carriage for my use, attached to the local train at the border station of Anklesvar. It was a magnificent-looking affair, painted white and furnished as a sitting room, with a small kitchen adjoining in case the visitor should want anything to eat on the journey, although only a few hours to the picturesque capital town of Rajpipla.

An A.D.C. meets the train and escorts the visitor, in a car driven by one of the Palace chauffeurs in a smart uniform and turban, to the large white guest house. This is situated near the Palace and surrounded by tall palm trees. At night one can hear the call of wild beasts in the neighbouring jungle.

The Maharajah is always arranging things for the entertainment of his guests. Tiger shoots, tennis picnics, riding his polo ponies before breakfast, crocodile shooting from a motor launch, or viewing the up-to-date public buildings which are all painted grey – soft to the eyes in the brilliant sun.

This kindly host is almost as fond of polo as racing, and every evening in India he either plays himself or watches a game from the terrace of his private gymkhana club with his relations, staff and guests.

A military band plays by the side of the ground, and the sound of galloping hoofs may be heard till well after dusk – when the moon rises a golden crescent behind the goalposts.

The Maharajah often comes to have meals at the guest house, and once or twice during a visitor’s stay will invite him to dine at the Palace. On these occasions the host wears white jodhpur breeches and a brocade coat buttoned up to the neck and reaching below the knees.

In England, which he loves to visit, he only dons such clothes on State occasions, preferring for everyday wear, a well-cut lounge suit with usually a red carnation in his button-hole.

SPORTSMAN AND STATESMAN

At his Windsor house he entertains informally, partaking in a game of tennis or croquet, or a run in the motor-launch on the Thames, which flows beside the grounds. The long dining-table is adorned with racing trophies, and on Saturdays and Sundays one may be sure to find at least twenty people seated around it, as I did only last Sunday.

By knowing the Maharajah I was able to see an IndianState, and I was vastly struck by the interest he took in the welfare of his subjects and the quiet, dignified manner in which he attended to everything – affairs of State, sport and the job of being host.

I am glad he has won the Derby, and with such an appropriately-named horse as Windsor Lad, for it is a fitting reward to such a hospitable resident of Windsor.

(Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email singh_iv@hotmail.com).

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