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   ELVEDEN ON FILM
Duleep Singh’s story was the subject of an award-winning movie called The Black Prince in 2017. The joint Indian- English production starred Punjabi newcomer Satinder Sartaaj as Duleep with Amanda Root as Queen Victoria and Jason Flemyng as Dr Login.
Although it was partly shot in England, the makers did not use Elveden Hall. The hall’s quasi-oriental interior and estate has played host to a lot of film and TV productions, though. They include:
The Living Daylights (1987); Gulliver’s Travels (1996); The Moonstone (1997); Eyes Wide Shut, shown above (1999); Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001); Stardust (2007); Dean Spanley (2008); All The Money in the World (2017); and series two of The Crown (2017).
  Duleep immersed himself
in high society and became a firm friend of Victoria’s oldest son, Edward, the Prince of Wales . . .
the turbanned teenager took tea with Victoria. She was enchanted by him and welcomed him into her family, even commissioning a portrait which still hangs in Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. The Queen and her Prime Minister, Lord Aberdeen, agreed it would be appropriate if “we accordingly treated him just as we do all princes”.
Duleep immersed himself in high society and became a firm friend of Victoria’s
oldest son, Edward, the Prince of
Wales, and when he acquired the
Sandringham estate in Norfolk,
asked for something similar nearby.
The India Office, which had
replaced the East India Company,
purchased Elveden, on the West Suffolk/Norfolk border, for
£138,000 in 1863 and started
deducting the cost from the
maharaja’s pension. It had already
been reduced from the promised
£40,000 a year to £25,000, so he despaired when the bill for his new home cut it again to £13,000.
Nevertheless, he spent thousands more on transforming the interior with intricately-carved Carrara marble, reminiscent of the grand Mughal architecture he had enjoyed as a child. He also established the 17,000-acre estate into a renowned venue for country sports, holding
regular shooting parties for the aristocracy and gaining a reputation as the fourth best marksman in the country.
By then, Duleep had married. Victoria matched him with one of her godchildren, an Indian princess called Gouramma of Coorg. Instead he chose a half-German, half-Ethiopian Coptic Christian called Bamba Muller. They had seven children; the oldest son died young, but
the remaining six thrived at Elveden and two were godchildren of Victoria.
As Duleep grew older he became embittered, feeling the British government had punished him for his mother’s wars against the East India Company. He also remembered her prophecy that a ruler would one day return from exile to liberate the Sikh people.
In 1886 Duleep and his family set sail for India. However, fearful
that his homecoming would spark unrest, the Singhs were intercepted in Aden. Duleep was told in no uncertain terms that unless he returned to England, his pension would be stopped. Although his family did go back, he refused and to prove his intent to reclaim his heritage, reconverted to the Sikh faith. His path to Lahore was blocked, though, so he chose to ‘
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