Many reports have claimed that Diana, Princess of Wales was killed in 1997 due to her love affair with a Muslim, Dodi Fayed, son of Egptian billionaire Mohamed Abdel Moneim Al Fayed. However, not many people know that Queen Victoria too fell in love with her Muslim servant Abdul Karim from British India.
British Channel 4’s documentary, titled ‘Queen Victoria’s last love’ shed light on one of many secrets about England’s longest reigning monarch. The documentary features interviews with relatives of both Queen Victoria’s household and Abdul Karim, as well as extracts from Queen Victoria’s diaries and journals.
In 1897, Queen Victoria celebrated her Diamond Jubilee – the first British monarch to do so. But beyond the grand celebrations on London’s streets, a war was raging between Victoria and her court over her relationship with her Indian servant Abdul Karim.
Victoria’s friendship with her Scottish servant John Brown is a familiar story. Her relationship with her Munshi (teacher) Karim, is less known but produced even greater shockwaves in the palace.
Their relationship violated Victorian taboos of religion, race and class as well as stoking bitter jealousy in the royal household; Karim was showered with honours and promoted over the courtiers whose families had served the royal family for generations.
The presence of a Muslim at the heart of the British court even threatened to destabilise the politics of Empire itself.
A crisis point was reached in the summer of 1897 in a dramatic confrontation between the Queen and her family, which threatened to plunge diamond jubilee celebrations into chaos by declaring the Queen insane. The Queen planned to Knight him.
On January 22, 1901 – when Queen Victoria died, the protection Abdul Karim had enjoyed came to a sudden end. He was later sent back to India.
The documentary is directed by Rob Coldstream; actress Veronica Clifford plays Queen Victoria and Kushal Pal Singh plays the part of Abdul Karim. Geoffrey Palmer acts as narrator.