Obituary | A sister, a guardian, the royal mother: Rajmata of Patiala is no more
Born in September 1922 in Ludhiana and given the maiden name Mehtab Kaur, she married the then Maharaja Yadavindra Singh in 1938, and had four children — two daughters and two sons.Updated: Jul 24, 2017 23:35 IST
Known for her piety and grace, the soft-spoken ‘Rajmata’ Mohinder Kaur is no more. The Patiala royal matriarch and mother of Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh, she drew respect in political and social circles across divides. She died of age-related ailments at her residence in Patiala on Monday evening.
“She lived a full life,” said her brother Inderjeet Singh Jaijee. “She was a sister and a guardian. She cared for everybody,” he added in a trembling voice over the phone.
Born in September 1922 in Ludhiana and given the maiden name Mehtab Kaur, she married the then Maharaja Yadavindra Singh in 1938, and had four children — two daughters and two sons.
The eldest among her daughters, Heminder Kaur, is married to former Union minister Natwar Singh; second daughter Rupinder Kaur is married to an army officer; Amarinder is the third; and the youngest is son Malwinder Singh.
Daughter of Harchand Singh Jaijee, a native of Chural Kalan village in Sangrur, her marriage in 1938 to the then heir of the Patiala throne acted as a pacifier between the perpetrators of the Praja Mandal (people’s movement) and the royalty.
Inderjeet remembers how his sister’s wedding into the royal family came when his family was in virtual exile. Her father was a close aide of the movement’s leader, Sewa Singh Thikriwala, and the wedding was a turning point for Sikhs to align behind the Patiala throne.
With the country’s independence in 1947, Rajmata was given the duty by the then PM Jawaharlal Nehru to find girls abandoned on both sides of the border, and help to find their families. She would regularly take Muslim girls to be sent back home to the authorities, and receive Sikh and Hindus who came back from the border.
The family shifted to the Netherlands in 1971 when her husband was appointed India’s ambassador to the country. She returned to Patiala after his death and was since living at New Moti Bagh Palace.
She served as a member of the Rajya Sabha (1964-67) on Congress ticket and then got elected to the Lok Sabha from Patiala segment in 1967. She continued to meet people, particularly those from Patiala, as a motherly figure.