History’s Most Unlikely Friendship Queen Victoria & Abdul Karim






Queen Victoria and Abdul

Queen Victoria with Abdul Karim

QUEEN Victoria ate curries every day for 13 years with chicken and lentils after becoming besotted with a young Indian Muslim clerk Abdul Karim.

Abdul was devoted to Victoria, seeing her as a mother figure and best friend. He also taught her Urdu every day.

The intimate friendship is recounted in a new book, Victoria & Abdul, based on a diary Abdul kept for 10 years.

Author Shrabani Basu got hold of it from Abdul’s descendants in Karachi, in Pakistan, where it had been locked away in a trunk since the family fled India during its independence riots in 1947. The Indian-born author said: “Even the family hadn’t read it. It’s in good English.

Ms. Basu realized how important Abdul was to the queen after visiting her former royal residence Osborne House on the Isle of Wight.

She said: “There is a photograph near her bed of John Brown, then beneath it Abdul and finally Prince Albert.

“Her three great loves – the room has not been changed since she died.”

Victoria became close to Brown, a Scottish “ghillie” brought to Windsor by the Royal Household to cheer her up after the death of Prince Albert in 1861.

queen victoria and Abdul movie

Brown became the “soulmate” of the reclusive monarch, who was again left heartbroken when he died in 1883, aged 56. Four years later Abdul, a 24-year-old clerk, arrived in England as a gift for the Queen on her Golden Jubilee.

Victoria fell for his informal charm, giving him the title “Mushini”, meaning teacher. Indian-born Ms Basu said: “Abdul fitted the same profile as John Brown, six foot tall, strong and devoted. They spent a lot of time together, I don’t think it was anything sexual.”

Abdul remained her loyal confident until her death at the age of 81 in 1901, when he was sent back to India.

Queen Victoria and Abdul

Heartbroken and forgotten Abdul died eight years later in Agra.

A film adaptation of the book starring Dame Judi Dench is out in cinemas nationwide on September 13.

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