Jan 24, 2010

Queen Victoria and her Indian servant Abdul Karim (The Munshi) - 1893

Hafiz Abdul Karim, (1863?-1909), better known as "the Munshi" (variously translated as "teacher" or "clerk" in Urdu), was an Indian servant of Queen Victoria who gained her affection in the final fifteen years of her reign.

The Munshi was one of two Indian servants brought over to mark Victoria's Golden Jubilee in 1887. The Munshi was initially a dining room waiter. The Queen took a great liking to him, and, after he supposedly alleged that he had been a clerk at home and thus menial work as a waiter was beneath him,[1] he was soon promoted to the unique position of "the Queen's Munshi"--he gave her Hindustani and Urdu language lessons,and taught her Indian customs. In later years, he became first Personal Indian Clerk to the Queen, and later her Indian Secretary (not to be confused with the Cabinet office of Secretary of State for India).

he Queen appointed him Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire in 1895 and Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in 1899. She also awarded him land in Agra and lodged him and his family in cottages at Balmoral, Windsor and Osborne House.

After the Queen's death, her son, King Edward VII dismissed the Munshi and his relations from his court and had his officials send them back to India. King Edward did, however, allow the Munshi to be the last to view his mother's body before the casket was closed, and to be part of her funeral procession.

After returning to India, the Munshi lived in his home in Agra, Karim Lodge, until his death in 1909. (Wikipedia)