Prince Albert Edward Duleep Singh
Maharajah Duleep Singh had three sons. The eldest Prince Victor was born on the 10 July 1866, followed by Prince Frederick in 1868, and then Prince Albert Edward Alexander Duleep Singh, who was born on the 20 August 1879. Prince Albert Edward was the youngest of all the Maharajah’s six children with Maharani Bamba, and was affectionately called ‘Edward’.
After his mother’s death, the youngest son Prince Edward and his sisters were removed and placed under the care of Mr and Mrs Arthur Oliphant at 21 Clifton Street, Folkestone, whose father had been the Maharajah’s equerry at Elveden.[i] Prince Edward became awfully lonely, his father had deserted him at a tender age and his mother had passed away. It seemed almost too much for a boy of his age. He had been brought up as a king’s son, surrounded by servants and the plush open spaces at Elveden. His memorable times at Elveden were not to be forgotten, playing merrily with his younger sister Princess Sophia on their ponies and being dressed and groomed, and sent off to extravagant kiddies parties with the children of his father’s socialites. Prince Albert Edward was a bright child and the Oliphants’ sent him to Sandroyd, a private school in Sussex. His form-master remarked ‘Edward has worked consistently well, he is a most satisfactory pupil’, while his school report for Christmas 1891, showed the young Prince achieving the top marks in classics and Latin, history and modern studies, and divinity in his form. For mathematics he was third, and his warden concluded ‘he is a hard worker and a most excellent boy’.[ii] But a few weeks later he contracted pneumonia. He was due to go to Eton in April. Although Prince Edward showed some improvement, the doctors said there was no chance of him going to Eton. In late April his condition became worse, the tubercular swellings in his stomach would not subside. At the time, his brothers had gone over to France to visit the equally ill Maharajah who had suffered a heart attack.
On the 21 April 1893, Prince Victor brought the Maharajah back from Paris to see the fragile little Prince Edward. The Maharajah made his emotional trip back to the shores of England and spent the weekend at a hotel in Hastings. The Maharajah was overjoyed to see his little boy, but was prevented by Prince Victor from his loud crying and bitter weeping. Before leaving he gave Prince Edward a piece of paper on which he wrote: ‘The Lord is my shepherd’. He kissed his little son and returned to Paris on the 24 April. A week later Prince Edward died. He was only thirteen-years-old.
[i] The former red marble grave stands at Worlington Church, inscribed ‘James Oliphant, Lt-Col to the Royal (Late Madras) Engineers and Equerry to Maharajah Duleep Singh’
[ii] Author’s Collection, Prince Edward’s Sandroyd School Report