Victoria and Abdul 1889

In view of the release of the film about Queen Victoria and her Indian Servant Abdul Karim, I am ‘fast forwarding’ to the year 1889, when Queen Victoria made a five day visit to Palé with some members of her family and a large retinue of servants, including Abdul, known to Victoria as the Munshi (see here)

Thomas gives 50 pages of detailed description of the visit, showing his usual curiosity about everything:

Several tall strong-looking footman, some in scarlet and gold liveries, the four Indians being Mahometans, cooked for themselves and would not eat any meat except it had been killed by themselves. They only had fowls while they were here. The Chief Indian came with the one Mr Clark introduced to me [earlier in the visit -Ed.] the evening they were going to leave and wanted a few flowers to put in their carriage when in the Royal train. Both were tall, about 5’10”, lithe and very active men. They were natives of Agra, they were dark brown in colour, but a little man who acted as cook was rather darker in colour.

I got them to give me their names; the chief wrote for both because he was able to write in English and he learned since he came over in the year of the Jubilee. The chief wrote his name as follows “Munshi Hafiz Abdul Karim, Indian Clerk to the Queen Empress”. …. Both were very pleased with me for showing them the flowers and fruit. The chief Indian was belonging to a Lancer regiment when in India, and he often amuses the Queen by going through the tent pegging on an Arabian horse.

Thomas followed the stories of many of the royal retinue from the visit, pasting newspaper clippings in the back of the journal, including this:

I intend next August to post the full account of the Royal visit to Palé on the equivalent dates, and alongside Queen Victoria’s account in her own journal.


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