When Amarinder Singh was ‘Yuvi’ and difficult to teach: New book on royal encounters
Maheshwar Dayal, whose German mother worked as a governess and teacher for the royal family of Patiala, chronicles growing up with ‘Yuvi’ and his brother ‘MK’ in his book ‘People, Places and Memories’Updated: Jun 07, 2018 20:49 IST
Who doesn’t love insight into the lives of the royalty, especially when it’s about a royal family closer home? Maheshwar Dayal might have been four years old when he first met ‘Yuvi’ in Patiala but the memories are still as fresh. “I am three months older than Yuvi, short for ‘Yuvraj’ that everyone then addressed him as. He was the heir apparent and even at four behaved like a Little Prince in charge,” reminisces Dayal as he refers to Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh. Incidentally, the two grew up together from 1945 to 1950 during the time Dayal’s mother, Hede, a German teacher who had escaped from Nazi Germary and married an Indian, worked for Maharaja Yadavindra Singh and his wife as a governess to their children.
“When a four-horse Victoria with the Patiala Royal Crest engraved on its side arrived to fetch us, I realised we were in royal company and was very impressed. But when I first met the children, I was most disappointed to see that they wore no crowns,” quips Dayal who has penned his memories of the early years at Patiala and those of his mother’s – she left him a detailed manuscript – in his debut book, ‘People, Places and Memories’.
“Yuvi was the most difficult to teach because he was not used to taking instructions from anybody. He was constantly distracted by other matters which he considered more important, such as his Papa’s Dakota airplane taking off, or soldiers during the drill, or some gunshots in the compound,” recalls Dayal who wasn’t the best of buddies with the young Maharaja during those years. “I was closer to Malvinder or MK as we used to call him,” says Dayal who worked with Siemens in Mumbai for over three decades before settling down in Sector 35, Chandigarh, with his wife, Indira.
Before he penned the book, Dayal, began to share memories of Patiala and his royal encounters on Facebook last year. “I would share snippets initially and it got many of my friends and other people interested. They all coaxed me to give it the shape of a book and I was also keen to tell my mother’s inspiring story,” says the author.
Lavish summer vacations in Chail, winter holidays in Patiala, the blossoming friendship between Hede Dayal and the Maharani of Patiala, Mohinder Kaur...the book throws up interesting stories and photographs too. One of them involves Yuvi again. “Once Yuvi’s parents had to go on a trip abroad and he threw himself on the ground and kicked up a royal tantrum. His mother, in order to pacify him, told him that they were only going for a short time and he was needed to be home in order to ‘look after everything’,” remembers the writer. While the young prince was pacified, he took the task too seriously. “He started behaving like two Maharajas rolled into one. He would take his father’s car and ride it with the Patiala royal flag flying. He would go on hunting trips with his friends and at home he would have all the mattresses laid out and everybody would have their food and drinks in the old royal style sitting on the mattresses and watching Charlie Chaplin movies,” Dayal takes a walk down memory lane.
It was only when complaints started pouring in that the governess took to reprimanding the young prince to put all this to an end. “He was furious and charged at my mother who stood her ground,” mentions Dayal who also writes how the children’s nanny, Sister Welsh later tried pacifying him and was heard saying, “No Yuvraj Sahib, you can’t send her away...you cannot shoot her, that won’t do!”
Today, at 76, Mickey Dayal is friends with the family. “I think he changed from being an obnoxious little boy to a true gentleman after his years in the Army,” he sums up.