The Maharani of Kutch and courtly life before and after Indian Independence
in Crowns and colonies
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The chapter begins with an overview of the ambiguous position of India’s maharajas and princes both under British paramountcy and after 1947 in independent India. It then focuses on the royal family that ruled over the important Rajput state of Kutch in western India and presents an account of the royal court and of courtly life from the perspective of the then Maharani, Rajendra Kunverba, later Queen Mother or Rani Mata. Using material from a series of discussions recorded in the late 1980s to early 1990s the chapter explores the place of women in the royal court and in its women’s quarters (the zenana). It then builds up a picture of the structures of power that operated in the zenana and considers how far they paralleled structures evident in the male-dominated court with its royal audience ritual of the durbar. The account concludes with a discussion of the Maharani’s emergence from the closed world of the zenana and with how her actions were affected by the climate of a modernising India.

Crowns and colonies

European monarchies and overseas empires

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