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The great Indian Empress conquest

world Updated: May 30, 2008 23:10 IST
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Contrary to her sombre public image, in private UK’s Queen Victoria was a passionate, romantic and a feisty politician who even had an affair with a young and handsome Indian servant, a new film says.

Apart from courtier Abdul Karim, Victoria had flirtatious relationships with two of her Prime Ministers — Lord Melbourne and Benjamin Disraeli — and also had an affair with a British servant, the Daily Mail reported, citing the film to be aired on Channel 4 next week.

In fact, the queen fell for Karim whom she had asked to teach her Hindi and educate her in his Hindustani culture, when she became Empress of India. "He is a very strict master and a perfect gentleman," she wrote about him.

Victoria had insisted he be treated as an equal among her advisers and courtiers and anyone who did not do so she accused of racism, eroding the boundaries between monarch and servant, the film says.

But the love of her life was her cousin Prince Albert to whom she proposed following just four days of courtship. She wrote a breathless account to Lord Melbourne after their wedding night.

"It was a gratifying and bewildering experience. I never, never spent such an evening. His excessive love and affection gave me feelings of heavenly love and happiness. He clasped me in his arms and we kissed each other again and again," she wrote.

As Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne used to guide the young queen through the intricacies of statecraft which led to the first scandal. However, marriage was out of the question and once she set her sights on Albert, Victoria dropped Melbourne.

But Albert died of typhoid when she was just over 40, and Victoria went into deep mourning.

Soon, there was another scandal as Victoria became enchanted by Benjamin Disraeli. "He is full of poetry, romance and chivalry," the queen wrote of her new prime minister in 1868.

But it is the nature of her relationship with British servant John Brown that is the most tantalising mystery. When Victoria died, in accordance with her strict instructions, she was laid out in her wedding dress with a cast of Albert’s hand beside her, along with a photograph of John Brown.

It has only recently been discovered that she was also buried wearing Brown’s mother’s wedding ring, fuelling speculation that they could have been secretly married.