Teenager Padmanabh Singh — grandson of the erstwhile Jaipur ruler, the late Brigadier Sawai Bhawani Singh — ascended the titular throne of the Pink City at a magnificent coronation ceremony at the City Palace here on Wednesday.
Brig. Singh died on April 17 at the age of 80 after a prolonged illness and on completion of the mourning period Padmanabh was coronated.
Brig. Singh had adopted Padmanabh, son of his daughter Diya Kumari, as the heir to the Kachwaha Rajput dynasty at a grand ceremony in November 2002.
Padmanabh, 13, lit the funeral pyre of Brig. Singh at the royal family's crematorium at ‘Gaitore Ki Chhatriyan' here last week. The unassuming teenager was called from Mayo College in Ajmer, where he is studying, to join the mourning.
Wednesday afternoon's solemn ceremony was attended by a galaxy of scions of the erstwhile royal families — the former Rajasthan Chief Minister, Vasundhara Raje and present Arts and Culture Minister Bina Kak were among them.
Padmanabh's coronation in the royal grandeur was followed by the presentation of a guard of honour by an imperial contingent and salute by firing of cannon 12 times. The newly designated titular Maharaja took the salute with poise while holding a sword.
Padmanabh, who has inherited the vast wealth of the former Jaipur rulers, will also squarely face legal disputes pending in connection with a huge chunk of properties. Many of the royal buildings have been given on lease to the State government for a token amount.
Members of the royal family are involved in litigation over distribution of ancestral palaces and enormous wealth in the form of gold, silver, precious gem stones, artefacts and antiques. Brig. Singh's stepmother, the late Gayatri Devi, was one of the litigants.
Brig. Singh's decision to declare Padmanabh his successor met with opposition as the young crown prince's father, Narendra Singh, had been a member of the royal household staff. The late Maharaja's two stepbrothers had stoutly opposed the move, leading to a rift within the family.
Some Rajput groups called upon Brig. Singh's wife Padmini Devi after the Maharaja's death to select a successor from among the sons of his stepbrothers or from any royal family of the erstwhile Rajputana. According to them, Padmanabh's coronation would “break the royal lineage” and damage the princely State's dignity.
The adoption ceremony for Padmanabh was the second at the City Palace after a gap of 81 years. Brig. Singh's father, Sawai Man Singh II — originally from Isarda — was also adopted at the same venue by the then ruler Sawai Madho Singh II in 1921. Brig. Singh, born in 1931, was the natural successor of Man Singh II.
After the coronation ceremony and other rituals, the titular Maharaja Padmanabh went straight to the city deity Govind Deoji's famous temple in the Walled City here. He was accompanied by his parents and Padmini Devi.