The Maharajah

One morning we went to attend the march of personalities which were on their way to the Royal Palace. They were guests to the wedding of King Alfonso XIII of Spain, who was to be married on the 31st of May to an English Princess, known as Victoria Eugene.

I was sixteen years-old then, I had my hair tied up in two plaits and wore mourning attire for grandmother.

We were left with our mouths open when, on the corner of Montera Street with Plaza del Sol, a silver plated coach with a strange character inside stopped before us. The man wore a white and blue turban over which shone a peacock-shaped brooch and clothing so luxurious and outlandish! He was loaded with jewels, a stout man, wore an odd beard and his eyes were insistently nailed upon myself. His piercing gazes made me shake from head to toes.

The Maharajah of Kapurthala on elephant

The Maharajah of Kapurthala on elephant

Those who were present said that, when the procession resumed its march, the man’s head turned around and with his face turned he remained until he lost us from sight. I remained pondering to myself whether he was Cuban or Muslim…

Later I knew that the character was none other than His Royal Highness the Rajah Jagatjit Singh of Kapurthala.

His Royal Highness the Rajah Jagatjit Singh of Kapurthala

His Royal Highness the Rajah Jagatjit Singh of Kapurthala

I think that His Highness fell in love with me that instant, as the saying goes: true love is…love at first sight…

Destiny intertwined the rest. A series of coincidences facilitated the contact and the intellectuals at the Kursaal lent a helping hand “Gentlemen, achieving Anita’s marriage with that Rajah is a question of patriotism” I recall hearing Valle-Inclán proclaim.

On the day of the King’s wedding, an anarchist threw a bomb at the coach of the newly-weds. The latter came out unharmed from the attack but the guests, fearing civil war, made an impromptu exit from Spain.

Not a week had gone by when the Rajah’s secretary reached our door with a letter for myself. In it His Highness confessed that he was captured by my presence and he proposed for my hand in marriage. In case of acceptance, I should consider the bearer of the letter as my personal servant, as he would be in charge of taking me to Paris with my family to arrange the wedding. And so we did.

The whole train journey I spent suspecting:

Does this man love me so much  that  he would have me leave for foreign country with my family? Leave like this, in an express service, to see a king and to marry him, as if we were lovers from long ago…what do I know if that will be love or what it will be…

All in all, a month later we were arriving at the Quai d’Orsay.

Here I am in Paris with my first long-coat and hat. The attire was quite heavy!

Here I am in Paris with my first long-coat and hat. The attire was quite heavy!

When arriving in France I was determined to learn whatever was needed, as a queen must know things that women here do not learn…

The daily schedule that the Prince wished for me to undertake was quite tiresome: lessons in the morning, a short drive in auto mobile, a class of something they called etiquette and in the afternoon we had a review, dancing, tennis, skating, horse-ridding, piano, drawing and billiards, music, geography lessons, several languages… I had a teacher for each subject.

Tomorrow I leave for my country-he told me with a deep sadness-, I hope you will be good and obedient. You shall not need a thing as your lady in waiting has orders to please you in whatever you desire, however as you are so young, you are only permitted to go to the cinema and for a drive. I will return to celebrate our civil marriage”.

It was the first time I was separated from him. I think that I already loved him somewhat and I was saddened that he left.