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The queen who loved her Merc

entertainment Updated: Aug 07, 2009 12:51 IST
Debjeet Kundu

Gayatri Devi
Gayatri Devi
Gayatri Devi behind the wheel of the vintage Merc
A little over a year before she died on July 29 at age 90, Gayatri Devi, former maharani of Jaipur, sat down behind the wheel of a vintage Mercedes 280 S and took it for a spin.

The car did not belong to her.

She had spotted it at a vintage car rally in Jaipur and was struck by its uncanny resemblance to a vehicle her late husband, former Maharaja Sawai Mansingh, had gifted her decades ago.

“We contacted the owner,” said vintage car connoisseur Vijender Gupta, who was also present then. “He told us it was not a similar car. It was the same one.”

The man had bought it from the royal garage.”

In 1968, Gayatri Devi revealed, she had seen the car parked outside her hotel window in Madrid. She remarked on it appreciatively to her husband.

That very evening she got a surprise gift — the keys of the Merc she’d admired.

The maharajah had bought it for her.

“She loved to drive and knew everything about cars,” Gupta recalled.