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Queen Victoria, Indian servant shared a bond?
London: Abdul Karim was a 24-year-old Indian servant of Queen Victoria, who gained her affection in the final 15 years of her reign. Their relationship sent shock-waves through the royal court, and ended up being one of the most scandalous periods of her 64-year reign.
But, a new archive of letters, pictures and Karim's "lost diary", held secretly by his family for over a century, sheds new light on the controversial relationship between the Queen and the youth from Agra who rose from a royal waiter to becoming her decorated Indian secretary.
In fact, Indian author Shrabani Basu has discovered the documents after penning Victoria & Abdul - her book on the remarkable relationship between the Queen and her servant, The Daily Telegraph reported.
The documents tell the story of how Karim arrived in England in 1887 and quickly gained the affection of a Monarch 42 years his senior.
"I came to England as orderly to the Queen... it is a much higher position than the orderly of the British Army who is simply a private soldier selected to attend an officer as a personal servant carrying his orders etc," Karim writes in his personal diary.
On arriving in London on the recommendation of Dr Tyler who his superior officer at India's Central Jail, Karim notes, he visits the zoo and Madame Tussauds. Yet sightseeing was not Karim's prime purpose; he is there to meet the Queen.
He recounts the first audience: "Dr Tyler and I were instructed to take our station near the dining room and wait Her Majesty's coming. I was somewhat nervous at the approach of the Great Empress who soon entered accompanied by HRH the Duke of Connaught and Princess Beatrice.
Dr Tyler at once did homage by kneeling, whilst I did the same in Oriental style. I presented nazars, or gifts by exposing, in the palms of my hands, a gold mohar (a coin) which Her Majesty touched and remitted as is Indian custom. The Queen was thereafter pleased to speak to Dr Tyler and so ended my interview with the Empress of India."
Two days later, Dr Tyler received a telegram asking him to return to Buckingham Palace with Karim who introduced curry to the royal menu and started teaching the Queen how to speak Urdu, offering lessons every evening.
Yet Karim was dispirited - he was unhappy doing such a menial task as waiting tables and professed his wish to return to his homeland. This is mentioned in his diaries.
The following letter from Queen Victoria that Karim kept in his journal asking him to stay is significant - that letter was one of many destroyed by her son, King Edward, after his mother's death.
Karim, however, had kept a certified copy: "General Dennehy has read me your petition. I shall be very sorry to part with you for I like and respect you, but I hope you will remain till the end of this year or the beginning of the next that I may be able to learn enough Hindustani from you to speak a little."
Subsequently, Victoria made Karim her official munshi (teacher) as well as Indian Clerk to the Queen. This too he notes in his diary: "It was a day I shall never forget and for the same I shall ever thank my God and pray for long life and happiness of Her Majesty."
Henceforth Karim travelled everywhere with the Queen, even on her tours of Europe, meeting numerous monarchs and prime ministers along the way. The Queen allowed him to move his wife over to England, and the couple were given their own cottage on each of her estates in Balmoral in Scotland.
According to his diaries, Karim seems particularly enamoured by Balmoral: "I admired the scenery for it reminded me so forcibly of the Highland scenery of India which is much resorted to by Europeans during the hot season. I was told that Her Majesty is particularly partial to this residence in the Highlands."
Queen Victoria died in 1901, and Abdul Karim was given a prominent place in the funeral possession. Yet days later, guards ordered him to hand over every letter she had written to him. He died eight years after his return, at 46.
Chimpanzee meat served in restaurants
BRITAIN: Chimpanzee meat is for sale in restaurants and market stalls in Britain, it has emerged.
Trading standards officials uncovered the illegal bushmeat from the endangered species whilst testing samples believed to be seized from vendors in the Midlands, reveals Daily Mail.
The meat, which can cost more than £20 a kilogram, is part of a lucrative black market trade that experts describe as ‘rife’ in Europe.
Last year, the first research on the import of bushmeat into Europe found over 270 tonnes passing through the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris alone, said the paper.
The chimpanzee meat is understood to have been discovered following raids by trading standards in the Midlands.
A Government whistleblower revealed: ‘It is well known this practice is underway in the region but I was shocked to discover the meat that was tested was once a chimpanzee.
‘Dubious meat is often tested, and has turned out to be things like rats and vermin in the past – but chimpanzee is unbelievable.’
It is not known how the bushmeat arrived in the Midlands, but experts believe it was probably flown into the country from Africa, possibly concealed in personal luggage.
Hurley leaves Shane Warne all alone
LONDON: Shane Warne cuts a lonely figure in London, according to eagle-eyed Herald Sun readers.
After days of speculation that he had left Melbourne, the spin king was spied by fans walking alone among the crowds on London's shopping mecca, Oxford Street.
Alert reader Adrian said: "He was definitely on his own. Liz Hurley wasn't anywhere to be seen. The street was really busy with a lot of people around so he just blended in.
"Once he realised someone was trying to get a photo of him, he disappeared very quickly. He was definitely trying to keep a low profile."
It is understood Warne will stay in Britain until new flame Hurley is back in town.
Hurley has left parrot Ping Pong at her Gloucestershire home and is believed to be holidaying on the private Caribbean island of Mustique with the other loves of her life - son Damian and ex Hugh Grant.
Thief snubs loot, says loo will do
NEW YORK: A New York burglar not only went to the toilet - he took it with him.
The man broke into a Brooklyn apartment and, ignoring the more typical loot, seized the porcelain throne and staggered off down the block, the Brooklyn Paper reported.
Flush with the success of his crime, the burglar returned to the scene and told his victim, a lawyer: "I'm going to slit your throat," the report said.
A 53-year-old suspect was arrested the next day.
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