Finally, India princesses inherit a fortune

NEW DELHI — It has all the makings of a best-selling novel. An Indian maharaja crowned as a toddler and rich beyond imagination falls into a deep depression in old age after losing his only son.

After his own death a few months later, his daughters, the princesses, don’t get the palaces, gold and vast lands they claim as their birthright. Instead, they are given a few dollars a month from palace officials they accuse of usurping the royal billions with a forged will. The fight rages for decades.

On Saturday, an Indian court brought the chapter to a close, ruling that the will of Maharaja Harinder Singh Brar of Faridkot was fabricated.

His daughters will now inherit the estimated $4 billion estate, instead of a trust run by his former servants and palace officials.

Chief judicial magistrate Rajnish Kumar Sharma, in the northern city of Chandigarh, finally gave his ruling on the case filed by the maharaja’s eldest daughter, Amrit Kaur, in 1992, a court official said Monday.

The Faridkot riches were legend in Punjab state.

The estate includes a 350-year-old fort, palaces and forests lands in Faridkot, a mansion surrounded by acres of land in the heart of India’s capital, New Delhi, and similar properties spread across four states. The 18 cars include a Rolls Royce, a Daimler and a Bentley.

There is an aerodrome in Faridkot, spread over 200 acres, which is being used by the Punjab state administration and the army.

And more than $170 million worth of gold and gem-encrusted jewelry.

Brar who grew up amid the final gasps of India’s royal families. He was crowned maharaja of the tiny kingdom of Faridkot in western Punjab — the last maharaja it would turn out — at the age of 3, upon his father’s death.

After India won independence from Britain in 1947, Faridkot and hundreds of other small kingdoms were absorbed into the country, royal titles and power were abolished and the royal families were given a fixed salary from the Indian government. That payment, the “privy purse,” was abolished in 1971.

Some royals slipped into penury, some converted their former palaces into luxury hotels to provide them an income.

A few, like Brar, held onto their enormously profitable real estate and continued to live a rarefied life.

But in 1981, Brar’s only son, Tikka Harmohinder Singh, was killed in a road accident and Brar tumbled into a deep depression. It was then, his three daughters’ argued, that his trusted aides connived to deprive his family of their fortune. They set up the Meharawal Khewaji Trust, naming all the maharaja’s servants, officials and lawyers as trustees.

A short time after Brar’s death in 1989, a will leaving all his wealth to the trust became public. The two younger princesses, Deepinder Kaur and Maheepinder Kaur, were given monthly salaries of $20 and $18 respectively. Brar’s wife, mother and oldest daughter — and presumably his heir —were cut off without a penny.

The trust told the court that Amrit Kaur had been shunned by her father for marrying against his wishes.

Kaur told the court that her father had never made a will and that she had remained with him until his death.

In the two decades that it has taken for the court to give its ruling, much has changed. The value of the estates has increased manifold.

The New Delhi properties alone are worth about $350 million.

One of his daughters, Maheepinder Kaur, died. Amrit and Deepinder are in their 80s.

More in Local News

Majority of Marysville City Council seats are contested

The most closely watched race is between Mark James and Donna Wright.

500 tires go up in flames at a store south of Everett

There were no injuries. And it was nowhere near as bad as that months-long tire fire in 1984.

Inclusion super important to Monroe High senior

Sarah Reeves worked to make homecoming more representative of the student population.

A pot deal between teens leaves them injured, facing charges

Police found out about the incident when both ended up at the same hospital that night.

Funds up for council vote would aid conservation district

District stands to receive an extra $1 million each year, if the County Council gives its approval.

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s best images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

Lake Stevens man injured by 50-foot fall near Leavenworth

The rescuers had to tie in to keep from falling due to the steep rugged terrain.

Lynnwood mayor challenged by councilman in general election

Three City Council members also are facing challengers on the Nov. 7 ballot.

Missing 6-year-old’s body found in trash bin near Lynnwood

Dayvid Pakko was mildly autistic. A suspect in his death is a relative, the sheriff’s office said.

Most Read