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12 Oct, 10 tweets, 4 min read
Queen Victoria & her love of Urdu

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Queen Victoria, the queen of the United Kingdom and the Empress of British India(1876) learnt Urdu for about 13 years from Munshi Abdul Karim.
Hafiz Mohammed Abdul Karim, a son of British Indian army hospital assistant, from Agra was sent to England in 1887, to deliver the ‘mohar’, or the seal, prepared in India to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee of her accession to the throne.
Charmed by Abdul's personality & exotic tales from the east, Queen employed Abdul as her servant and soon promoted him to the post of a munshi or teacher.
Karim became one of her most trusted men who not only made her love chicken curry and daal, but also taught her Urdu.
She took her lessons every day, never missing one, even if she was travelling. She completed 13 volumes of her Hindustani Journals, one for each year. Her last entry was in November 1900, two months before her death.

Page from one of Queen Victoria’s diary/journals
Towards the end of her life, she could write and read in Urdu.

"A page from the Queen's diary, in Urdu and English, on January 14th, 1891, the day of the death of Prince Eddy, the Duke of Clarence."

** It's her Urdu & English handwriting. I can read neither! **
Queen praised him in her journals, "I am so very fond of him, He is so good & gentle & understanding all I want & is a real comfort to me."
Some royals even found the Queen’s fascination with him to be scandalous, though she was 68 & signed letters to him as 'your loving mother'.
"Munshi, who is an excellent, clever, truly pious & very refined gentle man, who says, 'God ordered it' ... God's Orders is what they implicitly obey! Such faith as theirs & such conscientiousness set us a great. example."

Munshi with the Queen at Balmoral estate, 1897.
The Queen did not trust her family and the Royal Household to look after the Munshi after her death, and so sought to secure his future. She bought him a land in Agra. After Victoria's death in 1901, Munshi was met with hostility by her attendants and immediate family.
Edward VII, Queen Victoria's successor, returned Karim to India and ordered the confiscation and destruction of the Munshi's correspondence with Victoria.

The Munshi died at his home, Karim Lodge, his estate in Agra on 20 April 1909.
"In the evening we saw the Munshi. He has not grown more beautiful & is getting fat. I must say he was most civil and humble & really pleased to see us."

— George, Prince of Wales, wrote to the King Edward from Agra, on his visit to India in 1905-06.

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