Once the effects of the First World War had begun to disappear, Maharaja Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla decided to embark on an extended trip in the summer of 1922 to Europe, the U.K. and the United States of America, where he met President Warren Harding at the White House.
So as to be in close touch with the powers-that-be in the U.K., the Maharaja bought a 27-room Victorian mansion at Old Windsor, Berkshire, not far from Windsor Castle. It was a sprawling riverside property that comprised a nine-hole golf course, tennis court and beautifully landscaped gardens.
On any given day one could find the who’s who of British, and indeed international, society at a party hosted by the ever-smiling Maharaja. Among his close friends were the Aga Khan III, Maharaja Man Singh of Jaipur and Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond. They would all enjoy a game of croquet or take a boat ride on The Thames, if they were not playing golf or tennis. Butler McCartney would take utmost care to make every guest feel welcome.
There was space enough on the estate for the Aga Khan’s flamboyant son Prince Aly Khan to land his small plane and nonchalantly walk indoors.
Every summer from 1922 to 1939 did Maharaja Vijaysinhji spend the summer months at this beautiful estate, and then after the Second World War from 1946 onwards.
It was the end of an epoch, the romantic era between the two world wars, never to return but fondly remembered to this day.