Many know about the life of Victoria, the Queen of the United Kingdom (Great Britain and Ireland), her marriage to Prince Albert, her passion for the arts and her management of political life - although the kingdom's constitution gave the king limited powers - until she was called the Mother of Europe.
But part of Queen Victoria's life has remained invisible, which is her relationship with her Indian Muslim servant Abdul Karim. In 2017, the release of a movie called "Victoria and Abdoul" shed light on another aspect of the Queen's life, which is the close relationship she has had with an Indian young man named Abdul Karim in the last years of her life.
The rise of Abdul Karim
In a report published in the British newspaper "The Independent", writer Sabrina Barr indicated that Karim, whose name is Mohamed Abdul Karim, was born in India to a Muslim family in 1863. He was the second of six children, as his father was working as an assistant in a hospital with a division of a weapon British cavalry. When Karim grew older, he got a job as a clerk in a prison in Agra.
The prison where Karim worked was a rehabilitation program for prisoners, where they were trained to weave carpets. In 1886, many prisoners traveled to London to display their textiles at an exhibition, and Karim Prison Supervisor, John Tyler, helped arrange the trip to the English capital.
The author stated that Queen Victoria, who was then in her late sixties, visited the exhibition. And because she had been named Empress of India in 1876, the Queen showed an interest in Indian lands under her rule.
Meanwhile, Queen Tyler told her that she wants him to choose two Indian servants who will work for a year during her golden jubilee, marking the 50th anniversary of her accession to the throne. Tyler Kareem has chosen another man named Muhammad Bukush. Then, learn English cream and teach British etiquette before traveling to England.
Meeting Karim and Queen Victoria The
writer reported that the Queen and Karim first met on June 23, 1887, when he and Bucks served breakfast at Frogmore House in Windsor. Shortly after her first meeting with Karim, Queen Victoria revealed in her memoirs that she began learning some words from the Hindustani language after getting to know her two new servants.
By August of that year, Karim, 24, began teaching the Urdu language for the Queen, one of the main languages spoken in South Asia and now the national language of Pakistan. From here, their relationship turned to a higher degree, as Queen Victoria requested that Karim take more English lessons.
In 1888, a year after Karim arrived in England to participate in the Golden Jubilee, Queen Victoria promoted him to the position of "Monchi" to signify his role as a personal language teacher, but their talks were not limited to learning the language, as Karim's biographer, Sushila Anand said They also talked about other topics, including philosophy and politics.
Throughout their 14-year friendship that lasted until the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, the Queen became so fond of generosity that she had appointed him responsible for the other Indian servants and assigned him a room at Balmoral Castle in Scotland.
However, the other members of the royal family did not approach the young man as the queen did, which indicated that they did not wish their treatment to exceed the rank of servant. When they expressed their hatred of Karim, the queen stood beside him and defended him.
The royal family's attitude towards Karim
The author stated that one of the reasons why Queen Victoria's relationship with Karim is unknown is due to the fact that many of their letters were burned. After rejecting the relationship between the Queen and Karim, her eldest son, Edward, after her death, ordered the burning of letters exchanged between them.
For her part, historian Carolee Erickson mentioned in her book "The Majesty of the Little Queen: The Life of Queen Victoria", that "racism was the scourge of the times, and it coincided with the belief in the appropriateness of Britain's global dominance. Unacceptable, so sharing it with them at one table and taking part in their daily lives was an insult. "
The writer stated that Sharabani Basu, author of "Victoria and Abdoul", told Time newspaper that she had seen special papers written by members of the Queen's family, including the Queen's own physician, Sir James Reid. In one of the papers he mentioned that Reid expressed his rejection of Karim very clearly, as he wrote that the queen was obsessed with "Munchy".
Moreover, Basso mentioned that Karim was portrayed in the western autobiography as a "fraudster", where he "manipulated the queen in pursuit of fame", so she wanted to investigate his past and his relationship with Queen Victoria in more detail.
Documenting their friendship
, the author reports that Basso became interested in a generous past after discovering that he had a painting in Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, the former palace of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
"I knew that Abdul Karim came from India to England to serve Queen Victoria in 1887, but he emerged in the pictures as a gentleman," Baso said, drawing "beautifully, in red and gold, with a book."
After researching Karim's life, Basso believed that all letters exchanged between him and Queen Victoria had been destroyed by orders of King Edward VII. However, she was able to communicate with Karim's relatives, who revealed that they kept his notes. Karim did not have any children.
"It was the most wonderful moment for me when I received the notes," Passo said. "And on one line he mentioned the following: I hope that story will appeal to everyone who has his hands on these notes."
Having already written a book on Queen Victoria and Karim, the discovery of the memos prompted Baso to reconsider the release of a second edition, on which the film "Victoria and Abdoul" released in 2017 was based.
Although the film depicts a fictional version of their friendship, Basso stressed that the film's events are realistic, despite their strangeness.