Queen Victoria and the Last Maharaja of Punjab by Rani Drew

This Play is the copyright of the Author and must NOT be Performed without the Author's PRIOR consent

ACT I

1854, Balmoral & Windsor Castles

Scene i - Dr Login, Lady Login, Dalip Singh & Queen Victoria

Balmoral Castle. Sir John LOGIN and LADY LOGIN are with DALIP Singh waiting for
DALIP’S first meeting with the QUEEN.

LOGIN: (to DALIP) You are not nervous, are you Dalip? The Queen is very homely, you’ll like
her.

DALIP: I’m looking forward to meeting her.

LOGIN: She is eager for you to meet the royal children too, a little younger than you but
delightfully friendly.

LADY LOGIN: Do you like the palace?

DALIP: (looks around) Yes, it’s very beautiful.

LADY LOGIN: Is this how you imagined it?

DALIP: Can’t remember now. What did I say?

LOGIN: Nothing particular, but that you wondered what the Queen’s palace was like.

DALIP: Does she have many palaces?

LADY LOGIN: Oh, yes. There’s Buckingham Palace in London, Windsor Castle in Berkshire
and then Balmoral in Scotland – which is this one, and there’s one in Wales, and many
small ones to house the various members of her family.

DALIP: I hope I get to see some of them, I’d like to.

LOGIN: I have no doubt you will. You’ll get many invitations from the Queen and to all of
them.

The door opens and the QUEEN rushes in.

QUEEN: (going straight to DALIP and taking his hand) At last! I have been waiting to meet
you, dear Dalip. (To the LOGINS) Thank you for bringing him. We’ll have tea shortly. (To
DALIP) And how are you, dear boy?

DALIP: I am very well, Your Majesty.

QUEEN: (to the LOGINS) Your good work shows. He is all too perfect. (To DALIP) I’m so
very glad to have you here. You must find England very cold, compared with your country.

(She throws a quick glance at the LOGINS, as if to say ‘wrong thing to mention’.)

DALIP: It is much colder here. But that’s how it is, it can’t be helped.

QUEEN: You can play tricks on it though. Wear many layers of warm clothing, play games and
move around to keep your circulation going, that’s what we do here to keep warm.

DALIP: I’ll do as Your Majesty suggests.

QUEEN: You must come more often. I’ll make sure you have invitations to all Palace parties.
They go on till late in the night, so you’ll be taken care of for the night.

DALIP: I’m honoured, Your Majesty. Can I meet the royal children?

QUEEN: Yes, dear. They are in the garden, waiting to meet you. (To LADY LOGIN) Could you
take Dalip to the garden. (Adding) And tell George Richmond we want him to paint Dalip
with the children. He’s a very good painter. I’ll show you the door to the garden.

DALIP & LADY LOGIN get up and follow the QUEEN offstage. The sound of a door opening
and shutting. The QUEEN re-enters. LOGIN stands up.

QUEEN: Do sit down, Dr Login. You really should be awarded a title for the marvellous service
you have done the country as guardians of Dalip.

LOGIN: (humble) It was our duty, but it turned into a pleasure. Lady Login and I are very fond
of him. He shows great promise.

QUEEN: That’s because of your guidance and education. I can see it too well. He looks a very
intelligent boy, very quick on the uptake. Tell me, is Dalip aware of what has happened to
his mother?

LOGIN: She was not ready to give in to the British authority, and consequently had to be dealt
with forcibly.

QUEEN: We were sent a report on her at that time, but can’t exactly remember what happened
to her in the end.

LOGIN: In 1849, when the Company finally annexed Punjab and deposed the young Maharaja –
yes, Dalip Singh – she was taken away to an unused provincial fortress and kept there,
under supervision.

QUEEN: You mean imprisoned?

LOGIN: Yes. From there she wrote many letters to the Company, protesting her separation from
the Maharaja...

QUEEN: I don’t blame her. Being a

LOGIN: The Company felt she was too close to where the young Maharaja was and might get
him abducted, so they shifted her to another remote place.

QUEEN: I see. Did it work?

LOGIN: Not really. She made her escape from there to Nepal, a small country in the North,
hoping to ally with the King there, march against the Company and regain her kingdom.

QUEEN: That’s admirable. She must be a resourceful woman. Did she get help from this King?

LOGIN: Not really. The King of Nepal was under instructions from the Company to keep an
eye on her but not to get involved in her schemes.

QUEEN: We feel sorry for her. (Pause. Goes to the window and watches the children and
DALIP in the garden) How does Dalip feel about her? You think he is aware of all this?

LOGIN: Difficult to tell, really. He hardly ever mentions her. From that point of view, it’s been
easy for us. You see, it must have been a frightening experience for him to be shifted from
place to place guarded by soldiers against a possible abduction. I suspect he must have held
much inside himself in those days.

QUEEN: You think he knows that he comes to us as an exile?

LOGIN: He doesn’t show any adverse feelings. When I was first given his charge, he used to
ask me lots of questions about England. He was quite keen on coming here and in fact
wanted to meet you.

QUEEN: I shall make sure we meet as much as possible, and invite him to Balmoral whenever
there’s any occasion. In fact, I will take him with us on family holidays. I have taken to
him, Login, and hope I can fill the place of an absent mother for him. How old is he now?

LOGIN: Just sixteen. He is mature for his age.

QUEEN: There’s nothing like adversities to make you grow up. (Pause) Did he know about me?

LOGIN: Yes, he asked me many questions about the English Queen. In fact, when the Company
partially took over the rule of Punjab, and left the young successor on the throne, they
made him wear a pendant with your picture.

QUEEN: Hmm. (Pause) Has he mentioned the Koh-i-noor to you?

LOGIN: Not really. But he knows of its existence. He mentioned it on his eleventh birthday.

QUEEN: A birthday party in the English style? What did he say?

LOGIN: The Maharaja was dressed most splendidly, wearing the diamond aigrette and star and
various other jewels I had rescued from the treasury and given to him as a birthday present.
When I congratulated him on his appearance, he innocently remarked that on his last
birthday he had worn the Koh-i-noor on his arm!

QUEEN: You think he would like to see it? Is there any harm in showing it to him? Somehow,
we would like to share its beauty with him – one monarch to another.

LOGIN: As your Majesty desires. When would you like to do that?

QUEEN: There is a party here next month. He’ll be invited to it, and you and Lady Login too.

LOGIN: I am going to be away then, but Lady Login will be happy to come and bring the young
Maharaja.

QUEEN: That settles it then. I will do some sketches of him too. He has a touch of beauty about
him. It will be a challenge to catch it. Next time he comes, I’ll do some sketching. (Looks
out) Since there is no sign of their coming back, shall we proceed to the garden?

LOGIN stands up and they exit.

Scene ii - The Queen, Lady Login & Dalip Singh

Music and dancing. Summer Party at Windsor Castle. Lights up.

LADY LOGIN & the QUEEN enter.

QUEEN: (goes to the table) We want to show you the sketches I did of Dalip at our last
meeting.

LADY LOGIN: (looking at the sketches) They are excellent, Your Majesty. You’ve caught him
just right.

QUEEN: I like to catch fleeting glimpses of life. I get George Richmond – you know, my Court
painter - to look at my work. Do you like painting?

LADY LOGIN: No, I never took to painting, but I like playing the piano. Strange how one is
attracted to certain things.

QUEEN: With many European musicians at our court, we hold regular concerts. Piano recitals
are for winters, those long evenings when one does not want to retire to the bedchamber
too early. Maybe you can give a recital at one of our family evenings. We will send you an
invitation. (Pause) Did you remember to ask Dalip?

LADY LOGIN: Your Majesty, I’m at a loss.

QUEEN: We asked Dr Login to ask you to find out if Dalip would like to see the Koh-i-noor.

LADY LOGIN: Oh, yes, he did ask me, and I asked Dalip, and yes, he said he would very much
like to.

QUEEN: Splendid. I made sure I have it here. Before he leaves, we will have a display. That
would be a good setting for a portrait. (Dreamily) Two monarchs looking at the same Kohi-noor.

LADY LOGIN: (smile) Who would then do the painting?

QUEEN: We have already arranged with George Richmond. He is in the hall sketching the
dancers. I hope he has done one of Dalip, who has quite a style, especially in his royal
attire. (Pause) Ah, another matter. Have you given a thought to Dalip’s marriage? We are
aware that he is too young at present, but it takes time to find the right match. Don’t you
think so, Lady Login?

LADY LOGIN: Rightly said, Your Majesty. Have you someone in mind?

QUEEN: As you know at present England harbours a few families of deposed Rajas and
Maharajas, especially from India, and we are in touch with some. Did you notice Princess
Victoria Gouramma of Coorg among the guests?

LADY LOGIN: I must have missed her. I will look for her when we go back in.

QUEEN: We think she will be a good match for him. She is beautiful, Indian and a good
Christian at that, like Dalip himself.

LADY LOGIN: The question of his marriage with her was raised in India also, and if I am not
mistaken the Princess of Coorg was one of the matches suggested, but for some reason it
didn’t come to anything.

QUEEN: We are her Godmother. It will be easy to arrange it.

LADY LOGIN: At some point the Maharaja mentioned his marrying an English girl.

QUEEN: My thoughts go to their offspring. They would be half-caste, which won’t be so good.

LADY LOGIN: At present, Dr Login and I are concerned that he takes well to England. He is
still finding his feet amidst us.

DALIP enters. He is in his regal costume.

QUEEN: Are you enjoying dancing, Dalip?

DALIP: Very much, Your Majesty. It’s quite energetic. Thought I would rest for a bit.

QUEEN: Come and sit here. (Looks at LADY LOGIN) Lady Login tells me you are settling in
well in your adopted country.

DALIP: With God’s grace, I am very much.

QUEEN: Tell me, Dalip, what interests you most?

DALIP: I love hawking and shooting game.

QUEEN: You are in the right country for that. What else would you like to do?

DALIP: Something adventurous, not fighting wars. (Awkward silence) Perhaps explore Europe?
From what everyone tells me, European countries are very different from England. I am
interested in European history.

QUEEN: What in particular?

DALIP: (includes LADY LOGIN in the conversation) Lady Login knows I am always asking her
what made Europeans cross the seas to conquer other lands.

QUEEN: What makes anyone do anything? (Changing the topic) Lady Login tells me you are
very keen on the Bible. I must give you a King James Bible. It is beautifully written,
especially the Book of Revelation. Maybe that will answer some of your questions about
human nature.

LADY LOGIN: I don’t know about that. On the contrary he raises quite a difficult question. (To
DALIP) Maybe Her Majesty will have an answer to it, Dalip.

QUEEN: I might. Ask me, dear boy.

DALIP: I like the Bible, but I fail to understand something about the Creation Story. How God
could make Eve out of Adam’s rib?

QUEEN: A thoughtful question, indeed. (To LADY LOGIN) Can you think of a reason, Lady
Login?

DALIP: I often feel my rib and wonder if a woman can be made out of it.

QUEEN: Let us know the answer when you have one. Lady Login and we would love to know.
Right now, we would like to show you something very special. (Looks at him) That’s a
lovely outfit, truly regal. I will make sure you are awarded The Star of India, it would sit
well on it.

DALIP: I’m flattered that you like it, Your Majesty. (To LADY LOGIN) I looked for you, Lady
Login, to tell you that next there’s a piano recital, if you would like to hear it.

QUEEN: We’ll hear it here, Dalip, the door is open. (Hastily) We want to show you the Koh-inoor. Would you like to see it?

DALIP: (surprised) Yes, Your Majesty, I would. (He looks at LADY LOGIN) I haven’t seen it
for some years.

The QUEEN gets a box out of the cabinet. Goes to DALIP and opens it.

DALIP: (lifts it from the box, puts it on his palm) Ah! The Mountain of Light!

QUEEN: Is that what it means?

DALIP: It glows even in the dark, but touched by light, its own brightness grows as big as a
mountain. Can I take it to the window, Your Majesty?

QUEEN: Certainly, Dalip, you can.

DALIP takes the diamond to the window. LADY LOGIN looks very nervous, the QUEEN stands
with the box, smiling. DALIP turns the diamond on all sides looking at it with great concentration.

DALIP: (from the window) It is much diminished in size from when I last wore it, on my 10th
birthday. (Pause - Silence) I like it how it’s cut now. Much better. (He walks back to the
QUEEN, holds it out to her) It will look well on you, your Majesty. (She takes it and for a
second holds his hand, most affectionately)

GEORGE Richmond enters with his easel and paint box.

GEORGE: Your Majesty, when did you want the portrait done?

QUEEN: (smiles, holding the Koh-i-noor with DALIP) Now, George, like this.

[End of Extract]


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