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A Queen Who Won Hearts

Compiled/Written by Swati Bajpai Email Compiled/Written by Swati Bajpai
September 2009
A Queen Who Won Hearts

The demise of Maharani Gayatri Devi, the erstwhile queen of Jaipur, at the age of 90, has brought to an end an era of beauty, grace and charisma. Voted as one of the most beautiful women in the world by Vogue, she had set the international fashion arena ablaze with her chiseled features, beautiful understated jewelry and pastel chiffon saris. Unarguably the international face of Indian royalty, the Maharani was a skilled polo player and an avid collector of vintage cars.

The Rajmata, as she was fondly referred to by the public of Jaipur, lived an eventful and an extravagantly glamorous life. She was one of the few royal women who chose to walk in tandem with time: after Independence, she contested the elections from the Swatantra Party, which she had co-founded with C. Rajagopalachari. A two-time MP, she was once described by President John F. Kennedy as “the woman with the most staggering majority that anyone has ever achieved in an election.” She won the world’s largest landslide poll victory, bagging 192,909 votes of 246,516 cast and the achievement was endorsed by the Guinness Book of Records.

Despite the abolishment of the Privy Purse and the loss of royal privileges, the Maharani felt a duty to her erstwhile subjects. She involved herself in many charities and strived to improve the lot of underprivileged girls. She was also credited with establishing the Maharani Gayatri Devi School and Sawai Man Singh Vidyalaya.

Born in the royal family of Cooch Behar , Gayatri Devi was the third wife of Sawai Man Singh II of Jaipur. Her autobiography, A Princess Remembers, is a bestseller and gives a vivid description of her glamorous, adventurous and privileged life.

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