April 23, 2021

KITAAB

Connecting Asian writers with global readers

Review: The Last King in India: Wajid Ali Shah, 1822-1887

1 min read

Rosie Llewellyn-Jones has written a well-researched book on Wajid Ali Shah, Awadh’s ill-fated last ruler, but ignores the significant cultural context of his reign in Lucknow

One of the first questions that arise from this book concerns the description of its subject as “the last king in India’’. With what justification can Wajid Ali Shah be described thus? His reign in his ancestral kingdom ended in February 1856 when Lord Dalhousie annexed Awadh. In other words, he ceased to be a king or he was a king without a kingdom. Bahadur Shah Zafar ruled in Delhi as the Mughal Emperor till September 1857. The Nizam continued to rule in Hyderabad till 1947 as did some other powerful rulers in Rajasthan, to wit the maharajas of Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur; not to mention the maharaja of Kashmir. Thus in terms of simple chronology, the claim does not quite stand scrutiny.

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